Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Forgiveness (Must Watch Video!!!)

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some time with leaders from various churches in Zambia and Zimbabwe.  Above is a video that I recorded on our last night in camp.  It was a story shared by Ben Freeth about his family's plight with the Mugabe Land Reforms of the early 2000's.  Specifically he is sharing about his battle to fogive the young men who abducted and tortured his mother-in-law, father-in-law and himself during a farm invasion.

Please take the time to watch this video.  The audio is not so good.  So turn your computer to the highest volume if you can.  It's a great message on forgiving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you.

If you are receiving this post via email, please CLICK HERE to view the video.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Border Patrol

I'm at the border now heading to Zimbabwe for a leadership conference with church leaders from all over Zambia. Here is a picture of what many people have to deal with when traveling from country to country - border patrol. If you drive a truck, you might wait a week or so for clearance. If you're in a car, just an hour. Anyways, we're off! Send you some pics from the other side.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dollar Troubles

I am reposting this blog that a friend of ours, Kelly Huckaby, wrote just to give you a little insight into why it is sometimes difficult to budget as a missionary serving in a foreign country.  This relates specifically to things currently happening here in Zambia.  Don't worry, we're not asking for any more support, unless you feel led to give ; ).  We're okay for now.  But please pray that things don't stay this way for too long.  Thanks,


I'm sure you've been carefully watching the Zambian exchange rate lately but just in case you missed it, things are getting a little ugly in Lusaka. The basic fact is that the dollar has lost about 11% in the last two weeks. At the exchange bureau they told me that they're planning on the dollar loosing another 10-15% over the next two months. Which is bad news for missionaries and expats who are paid in dollars in the U.S. and then have their paychecks wired over for an exchange in kwacha. It means that every $100 bill that comes over will only be able to buy $75 in kwacha compared to last month's rate of exchange. Which would be no big deal if prices generally reflected that here. But when the dollar was strong over the last six months a number of big businesses here raised their prices to match the dollar. Which means with a falling dollar you now get hit on both sides from inflation and devaluation 'cause those prices of goods are not going down.

The reasons behind all of this are many but boil down to a few - the new PF government made it illegal to deal in dollars in order to A) get the old MMD government to offload their (stolen and hidden) dollars and B) strengthen the kwacha. Now buying or selling in dollars can get you 10 years in jail so the market is now flooded with people trying to trade-in dollars for kwacha creating (hopefully) a brief time where the demand for kwacha is spiking and the dollar is weak. The government is also working on a new currency by dropping the three zeros off the kwacha to make it 4.6 kwacha to the dollar instead of 4600 to the dollar (also a bid to get people hoarding cash to get rid of it - which might help flood the market and make the dollar strong again...).

Long story short - the government is creating a false demand for kwacha to strengthen the local currency and weed out crooks. Hopefully the market will set this all straight again in a month or two and the exchange rate will stabilize. Hopefully in way that won't mean that our personal and ministry budgets are suddenly 25% short every month.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saluala - Grab What You Can

Today was a busy Saturday.  We've been trying to get prepared for a clothing distribution for the workers on the farm where we stay.  And today was the day that it all happened.

Many of these families have very little means and can't afford to buy clothing and most have rather large families.  So, to say that they were excited for the opportunity to come and choose clothing for themselves and their family members is an understatement to say the least.  We basically had the different housing compounds on the farm arrive at 10:00 am and form a line at the gate.  By the time we started the distribution, we had nearly 75 families representing about 375 - 400 people.

The proper term for clothing distribution is Saluala which literally means "grab what you can."  We were a little bit more organized than that, but most of the families were able to pick out several new clothing items.  It was a blessing to us to be able to provide for some of the physical needs of our neighbors.

Thank you to those of you who made this possible.  Just to list a few: Chapin Baptist Church combined Sunday schools, in particular Jamie Cassel and Marvin Bozard for securing the container and many of the donations.  Margie Simmons and her staff of volunteers of Christian Ministries International for packing the container and providing extra donated items.  The friends and family members who sacrificed time and donated items for this cause.  And a few friends from Texas who were responsible for the generous donation which covered all of the shipping costs.  There are more who helped, but we did want to make sure that we mentioned these few individuals.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! If you are receiving this post via email, please visit our website to view the video: www.robertsinzambia.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Coolest Field Trip Ever!!!

A couple of weeks ago, we had the privelege of accompanying one of our friends on a game capture.  Our vet and friend, Ian Parsons, is the the person that game reserves in Zambia (both private and public) call when they need to capture or tag wildlife.

In fact, just last month, Ian was contacted to capture and transport 3 Giraffe to the Statehouse for the president of Zambia.  Pretty cool job huh?  Anyways, Ian was asked to capture approximately 100 Lechwe, an African antelope that can weigh in excess of 300 lbs.  We've been bugging him to let us tag along if he ever had a capture where we wouldn't get in the way.  So, he invited me, Luke and our oldest children!  

The method of capture: helicopter and nets.  Ian contracted a local pilot to use his chopper to fly around the game reserve and basically herd the Lechwe towards a netting system.  As the helicopter got close to the nets (which were stretched out in the shape of a U about the size of a football field) it would sound a few short blasts of a siren to scare them into the mouth of the U.  When the lechwe entered, a group of people would pull curtains so that the animals were trapped within the U.

And that's where we came in ; ).  We basically hid in the tall grass and as they ran in, we would stand up, chase them into the nets and either grab them by the hind legs or, if they were male, by the horns.  It was hectic, but it was AWESOME!!!  Don't worry.  The kids didn't participate in the physical capture.  They were safely hidden on the outside of the nets.  They were the photographers.

Let me just say that I thought I was in shape before this day, but I quickly realized how out of shape that I was.  Along with a lot of running, it was extremely exhausting wrestling with these large animals and then loading them into the transport trucks.

And my kids weren't that impressed with me either.  At one point, my son Caleb said, "Come on dad, quit being a wimp and catch one."  Let's just say that at times it was hard to muster up the courage to run full force towards an animal that could seriously hurt a person with a well placed kick.

But all in all, it was a pretty successful day.  We, along with Ian's Zambian staff, were able to capture about 60 Lechwe and 25 Impala (another African antelope).  And for the first time, we were able to get a really up close look at these beautiful animals.

Coming out of the day, I think we all had to pinch ourselves to make sure we weren't dreaming.  We kind of felt like we were on the crew of one of those shows on Animal Planet or National Geographic.  

Needless to say, it was a very, very neat experience!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

An Evening of Study

Last night was the first night for a farm-wide study on the story of the Bible.  New Tribes Mission has a study which chronologically goes through the bible and lays the foundation for people to understand who God is, who man is and His plan for the entire human race.  The name of the material is Firm Foundations.  It's a 48 week course.  So, we will be meeting ongoing for quite some time.

I really didn't know what to expect in terms of turnout.  I put out word to our neighbors (the farm workers) through one of our own workers that we would be meeting on Tuesday evenings to study the Bible.  I asked everyone to arrive at 6:30 pm, but this is Africa and sometimes 6:30 means 7:00 or 7:30. So at 6:30 we had only a few, but as you can see from the picture, many more arrived a little later.

The first lesson was on the authority of the Bible.  Many of the people who showed up were surprised to learn that 40 people over 1600 years wrote the Bible and that it told one consistent story.  When we asked them how this could happen, they said that "God had to be the author."  Next up, Genesis and the story of Creation.  I can't wait to see what and how God teaches these friends of ours over the course of the next year!

Monday, July 02, 2012

Repairs Maningi (A lot of them)

Over these past few weeks we've had a lot of repairs.  When you live in the African bush, you can't just go down to Wal-Mart and get a part for a quick fix.  Here, the nearest place is Mazabuka, about a 45 minute drive away.  And many times they don't even have what you're looking for.

So, a lot of times, you just have to "make a plan."  It's a very common term we're beginning to learn.  In the case of these two pictures, on one day, our oven stopped heating up.  Instead of being able to find the right part, we had to jerry-rig the broken part to work on less electrical breakers than it is supposed to.  And the picture of the car happened when, because of the rough roads, we had a bracket under the dash break loose.  So, our friends helped me weld it.

Just a couple examples of us finding ways to fix things where parts and services are not as readily available.  And example of practical differences between our lives in the States versus our life here.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

New Family Members

This past weekend, we welcomed 8 new puppies into the Roberts family.  Our 2 year old Chocolate lab Hershey started labor early in the day and then delivered her first pup at 8:00 pm.  The last finally came at 2:30 am.  Daddy, Caleb and Gracyn were some tired people after it all.  Kerri lucked out and missed it all because of a scheduled trip to Lusaka.

Anyways, the kids are loving having the cute little guys around!