Our second Sunday in Chipata and the team are still energetic and raring to go! This morning we went to the service at The Central Chipata Evangelical Church and were treated to some more beautiful worship singing. After a bit of a shaky start with the instruments, the ladies in the worship team sang several beautiful songs and danced as if no one was watching. We really enjoyed this part and felt quite moved. After worship, we were introduced to a couple of people who are in Africa for ministry work; one of which is a Pastor from Canada and he gave a sermon which was pretty relevant to our team. The Pastor invited us to reflect on whether we are serving others even when the circumstances are risky, uncomfortable, inconvenient or maybe when we are just too busy. It was certainly a good reminder to us that no matter what is happening in our lives, it has been an incredibly important journey over here to spend time doing Zoe Zambia’s work. Each of us in the team has made changes to our lives in order to be here, but it has not felt like a sacrifice, more like a privilege to meet and spend time with people out here.
Two others that we met at the Church were Steve and Dylan from Operation Mobilization in Georgia USA, they are in Zambia doing a couple of months sports ministry work. After a few minutes talking to the boys, Chris mentioned that we had a large bag of football kit in the back of the truck. The boys were so dumbfounded that they launched a hug on Chris, much to his surprise! Isn’t it wonderful how Chris put the bag in the truck this morning as we weren’t sure what to do with it, and an opportunity landed at our feet?!
A very important part of our time here has been to meet with the school Head Teachers and talk through our orphans’ school report, which is given out at the end of each term. We have orphans in eight of the local schools, so we have bounced our way through the chiefdom during our trip and talked through the reports. There are some very smart children and it really is wonderful to see their reports, bearing in mind that they may never have had the opportunity of schooling without Zoe Zambia’s sponsors. We talk through reasons for bad attendance if the school reports reflect this and sadly this is quite often down to long term sickness. What comes through in these meetings is how familiar the Heads are with the students, especially considering the sizes of the classes which can be over 100 in each!
Whilst speaking with the Head Teachers we made a point of asking whether they were short of any resources. Hastily scribbled notes led to a shopping list and as you saw from our blog yesterday, we were able to pick up most of the supplies. We had to omit one request of an iPad from our list though! We took great pleasure in taking the afternoon today to visit as many schools as possible, delivering the goodie bags to the teachers. We weren’t quite aware of the Sunday afternoon footie game rule though and managed to interrupt one Head during a game, oops!
It was announced just a few days ago that the electric grid would be imposing a blackout for 4 hours each day, so yesterday Claire was hastily typing at speed to get you all the blog in time before we lost power! We hope it was appreciated! We have been given an idea of when the blackouts are going to be so at least we can plan around it. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the team took the lack of power to take a rest, oh no, Caroline and Chris carried on writing reports and doing the accounts even in the dark. Dedication!
The major upside of the blackout is the STARS!! We all went outside to star gaze and Amy gave squeaks of joy when she realised The Plough was upside down to the way we see it in England, who knew?! ALSO, we couldn’t find the North Star and soon realised that it’s because we are in the Southern Hemisphere. Very interesting stuff!
It was whilst star gazing that Stephen revealed another of his ‘ology’s’ that he has studied. Honestly, Stephen is a wonder at how many subjects he has studied; Cosmology, Theology, Philosophy, Anthropology, Sociology, Politics, Psychology, Agriculture, Crisis Management in a Refugee Camp, Agriculture and he also trained as a Priest before being pinched to do a very commendable job within the refugee camps of Mozambique. Stephen uses all of this when he is talking to and dealing with people across the Chiefdom and it’s pretty amazing to watch as he changes tact with each different person. It is such an honour for our team to work alongside Stephen as he injects little gems of philosophy and stories to our days. Stephen is also a very funny man and his laugh makes even the grumpiest person smile! We have had lots of jokes along the way and Stephen finds it very amusing as we try to make new names for different places on the map! It doesn’t seem to matter where we are, everyone knows Stephen. As we meander through the bumpy bush, people seem to appear out of the long grass shouting “Ngwira!” (his surname). Little children run after the car shouting “Ngwira” like the scene from Lord Of The Rings when Gandalf arrives at the Shire. Everyone knows Stephen and as such Zoe Zambia has an incredible presence here, which is wonderful!! We come towards the end of our trip here and we all feel very grateful that Stephen is such a major part of the team.
Tomorrow we are off to Kafunte River, which is a game reserve in the Mfuwe region, we are all very excited to see some large game and smaller creatures too. Chris is still holding out hope for a tiger…..