Thursday, February 18, 2010

Week of Shifting

Shifting is what they say here, when they refer to moving.

Monday we spent the night at our new house. James was able to finally get the long anticipated mattresses and went to pay for the bunkabeds. ( that’s what they call them, the kids have gotten a kick out of that). The bunk-a-beds were delivered about 5pm and they took them apart outside and then had trouble getting them through the doorway of the house. The first set took some maneuvering and then the top part of the second set could not get through. It had the rebarb posts that attach the 2 beds together on the bottom part and it just would not fit through. So they left the bed and said they would come back tomorrow with pliers and something to try and get it taken care of.

But I know my husband very well and knew he would have those beds set up in the rooms that night. He told them “don’t worry about coming back and I will take care of it.”

We left it where it was and then went to Arcades Shopping Center to Mike’s Kitchen for dinner. Mike’s Kitchen is a chain out of South Africa that has good food, but the main draw that night was Jackson wanted to go there for his birthday. So we took our little Valentine’s birthday guy there for his 4th birthday. The reason the kids like it so much is there is a play place with a jumping thing, 2 trampolines and 5 tvs set up with their own video games. So while you are waiting on your meal you can play.

So we ate dinner there and then stopped to get a few tools for James to try and fix the beds.

After dinner at Mikes Kitchen we went back by the house we had stayed in when we first arrived and picked up the rest of our things. Initially we were just going to get a load and then come back later, but we ended up getting everything, thrown in the trunk and the kids holding various things on their laps as we headed out. We still plan to go back there Friday to say goodbye to Alice, and get directions of a restaurant where she cooks at for lunch.

We shouted out our “Z Como” (thank you) to Mr. Sakala the night guard and headed “HOME”.
It was pretty late by then, and James set to work on the bunkabed that was still in the hallway, after we carried everything in. The kids looked around for PJ’s and toothbrushes ( which we didn’t find till the next day) and got ready for bed. But before they went to sleep James also had to hang up their mosquito nets. So he managed to get the other bunkabed in and we helped lift it up on top of the other one and got everyone tucked in bed. That phrase “tucked in bed” has new meaning now, as I often will check the nets and tuck them in a bit to the bed.

James attempted to shower before we went to bed at 11 and the water shut off.
We all slept well, everyone in their own beds.

We woke up in our new Home. The water was back on, but the hot water was not working. So no shower for me. The kids were scurried off to school late and a bit harried and that was how the day started.

We have a woman, Maureen who we have hired as a house helper. Having a few people that you give a job to is very normal here among the Zambians, and really in many places all over the world. She is a single mom with 3 kids that live with her brother several hours away, and then she also has a baby, named Jackson who is 5 months old. She was highly recommended to us and we have liked her so far.

She arrived later in the morning and then helped with cleaning and house things. I attempted to do laundry again, for the second time and the dryer shut off again. So we had the contractor come and repair it again. The first time he came and put on a higher grade outlet. The second time he replaced the plug that attaches to the dryer because it melted onto the outlet. So no dry clothes again.

I started unpacking bags and rearranging things and trying to settle in. It seemed to go fine, and Jackson and Caleb stayed entertained much of the day as did Emma. I finished clearing out the last of the kids duffle bags and I found a bottle of perfume…

Let me digress here to tell you about some dear friends, the Dues. Larry and Trenda are in their 60’s and we have known them for 13 years. When we first started driving to Louisville from Berea to attend our church, we met them. Just happened to sit down in front of them and one Sunday they asked us if we needed a place to stay on Saturday evenings so we wouldn’t have to drive the hour and half to church on Sunday morning. They lived about 25 minutes outside of Louisville in a town called Shelbyville! We were delighted at the offer and so started a special friendship with them in some ways being parental figures since we lived far away from both our parents. A year later and Sarah Catherine was born early (so my mom was not able to be there,) and Trenda came to the hospital and helped in labor. We continued our friendship and then we moved away to Montana a few years later. We moved back to Louisville after 3 ½ years and James found an interim job in Shelbyville. Where the Dues lived.
A year and a half after that we started a bible study in Shelbyville at the Dues house. When I had Jackson (early again) she came and watched the kids all day and then brought them to the hospital and then cooked chicken and dumplings for us when I came home with him.

When Sarah and Ian were little and she would be working in the nursery we told her that we always knew who held them and cared for them in the nursery because when we picked the kids up they smelled like her. Her perfume.

So I found the bottle of perfume in the bottom of the bag and took it in my room. I sat down on my bed, opened it up, smelled it and almost instantly the tears welled up in my eyes. Pretty amazing how our sense of smell can bring back the familiar faces and memories. I closed the bottle and sat there a few minutes tearful. Then I got up and went about the rest of the day unpacking.

The day was busy and full. After James brought the kids home from school and Maureen left to go home we went to the Tuesday Market which is at a church nearby. It was about 5pm and very busy and crowded. It was neat to see everyone sitting there with their vegetables laid out.

I walked around buying things while James kept the kids with him. It was very crowded and we had to push through and finally got our things and headed to the car. Always being around people, crowds of people can get wearisome. Then we went to the shopping center, to GAME, to buy more things for the house. Then after that, crowded experience James took the kids to the car to take everything there and I went to Shoprite the grocery store. It was a crazy time everyone getting off work and buying groceries and tons of loaves of bread because they are cheap. I went through the store trying to remember my trip there with my friend Stephanie and I found several things I needed and then got to the meat department.
(I used to be a vegetarian for about 15 years, but started chicken when I was pregnant with Sarah and then these last 2 years have gone back to beef..Evidently just in time as you don’t hear of too many vegetarians in Zambia)
There were drops of blood on the floor from the meat and I started looking for the chicken filets. I could not find any, and so tried to figure something out and headed quickly through the rest of the store to wait in the long line at the checkout. James and the kids headed in around that time and I checked out and we started heading out of the store. James and I stopped to talk for a few minutes, he asked what was wrong I said I was worn out and hungry and at that point I did not say, but I felt like I was about to cry.

We started walking to the car to put the groceries away, the kids were walking ahead of us and I was the last one, and we saw our friends the Allens, Steve and Stephanie and their 5 kids. My first thought was, “oh no…” They asked if we wanted to join them for ice cream, then Stephanie walked over and said hi and how are you doing? I burst into tears, literally, and broke down crying right there in front of Galitos chicken with 10 children watching me, people walking by and Stephanie hugging me. There is no explanation for how I felt, other than it must have been building up over the day and weeks. I told her this is the first day I have cried. She said she totally understood, and was so sweet and encouraging me. They asked if they could buy us dinner since we had not eaten yet and I excused myself to go finish crying in the bathroom. I locked the stall and just stood there really crying. Even now as I type this, I think how sad. I opened the door went to the faucet and it would not turn on, went to the next one and it wouldn’t turn on either, third try and a little bit of water came on. I splashed it on my face and tried to start to compose myself, all the while these professional women were applying their makeup and smoothing their hair. I looked for a paper towel and remembered they don’t have them. So I walked out of the bathroom to the hallway where they have a few hand dryers. Previous times trying to use them, they don’t stay on, they start and then stop and then start and then stop. I was trying to dry my hands and then dry my face off from the tears and water and I was not too successful, so I ended up just using part of my shirt to dry my face off and walked out of the bathroom, with red eyes and a puffy face.

The kids were having a great time with their friends all sitting in a booth and Steve and Stephanie and James and I sat behind them and we were able to just talk. Steve encouraged me as well saying he knows exactly how I was feeling, and then we talked about several things related to being here, the challenges just living life is harder and things take so long to accomplish, seeing so much poverty and living with the weight of that all around you. Very helpful things. We both remarked at this Divine appointment for us to meet and spend this time together. We left, very thankful for God’s hand in moving us and them to be there at that exact spot and time, even when I initially felt, “oh no!”

There are so many decisions that have to be made right now. I need sheets or towels or dishes. The thought process is very stressful at times. Which ones, Wow that costs so much. That’s all there is. We need it, so ok I’ll buy it. And every item is like that. Or I go buy something at the market or we buy something on the side of the road and its right then and there you have to decide and the person is watching you, or you try to negotiate the price and that if I am worn out can be stressful too.

We talked some about having a house helper and how eventually you get to the place where you are comfortable with them and they are helping out so much, but this initial time is hard, its so new. Trying to figure out, “ok teatime break… at what time? You need tea, well I don’t have any mugs. Um here’s some tea and bread for toast. Then you are supposed to provide lunch for the workers and how that works out, you buy a bag of mealie meal for them, and then maybe they have a burner stove top cooker that you provide with some pots for them to cook their meal outside in the guard shack. But all things that have to be worked out and you have to figure it out and talk about it. So yesterday it was hard.
I realized too, I just was going going all day long because she was working all day long too and I was exhausted. Later in the evening James was helping me to see that she is working and my doing school with the kids and playing with them and taking care of them is my work. And to try and think of it that way, as 2 people working alongside each other.

So today I tried to think about it that way. And to stop and take a break. Stop and take a moment to pray. Play with the kids. I am very thankful, the day went much better and Maureen was able to help me a lot today as well. She knew what to do to wash all the vegetables in a bleach and water solution, she helped me get things put away in the kitchen, and several other things. I felt more comfortable today with her helping and being here. She is quiet. And I can be quiet too, so that’s ok.

When we got home last night, James got the kids ready for bed and he told me to go take a bath. I opted for a shower instead, the hot water was working again, and I had not had a shower in 4 weeks.
There was not much pressure, but it was hot and nice, and I was thankful.


We were able to buy the water filter today. We had to go downtown to a store that sells them. So now tomorrow we will have to figure out how to use it since there is no instruction manual. But once we get it operational, then that will be a job in itself for Maureen to help with. Boiling water and then letting it sit a certain amount of time, and then running it through a filter and then putting it into containers.

We found the fabric store after a few tries today that you can buy fabric at to make curtains, and when we finally arrived, CLOSED for lunch from 1-2. So I think I may go with a friend there another day.
There is so much driving around trying to find things.
James just got back from the store. We were looking for a certain type/size of mosquito net for our room and he said, they obviously didn’t have exactly what we were looking for because, “Its AFRICA”.
So he “rigged” it up. Just like the water hose that didn’t come with a nozzle to attach it to the spicket outside, so he tied plastic around it and a piece of roping from the mattresses.

I know a lot of this is good for us. Well probably all of it is. We are learning to “make do” as so many people do. Much of the worlds population does not have a walmart on their corner, to just run to whenever you need something. These small inconveniences are nothing compared to what so many around us are living in and going through. Just trying to survive.

The other day I was working around the house, and I felt hungry. So I just walked into the kitchen and got a snack. I was struck with how normal this is, when just a few kilometers away people are hungry for a snack and they don’t have one. Then I thought, I bet this gardener at the house we were staying at would like a snack whenever he wants one… So MUCH we take for granted.

Well its getting late and I need to try and post this now.
Thank you for your prayers. Please keep them coming.

Another blessing today. And a drum roll please… There was an empty laundry basket at the end of the day and clean clothes!

Well I thought they were all clean clothes. And that I would have been able to post this, but I was not. I woke up and checked the dryer for the last load of the evening and they were still wet and now smelled moldy from sitting closed up all night long. The dryer stopped working again. The dryer is brand new, so the problem has always been with the outlet. So I then put the wet clothes back into the washer to wash again, but the water pressure was very low and it would not fill up. And again this morning, no hot water. There are 2 Geysers on this house so theoretically we should have hot water, and there are 2 reserve tanks. But there seems to be a problem so every day the contractors have been here working on both those issues. Seems like they think they solve the problem, only to wake up in the morning with the same issues.

So today hopefully they solved the dryer problem. At least now at almost 10, I just turned it on and it is still running.

I was able to go to the fabric store to pick out material for curtains for 2 of the 3 bedrooms. I was holding out on the boys room, since I packed their curtains, but have no idea about when they should be arriving.

We met some new friends in our neighborhood and they invited us over to dinner tonight. They are a couple from America, (the wife is actually Dominican, we found out this evening, and his family is from Antigua). They have 4 children, and live about 5 minutes from us. It was a blessing to spend the evening with them and were encouraged by our time together. The Lord has been so kind to us, in putting people in our lives to help us in this transition. She told me about several places downtown that they shop at so you can buy things in bulk and they are much cheaper and then you are not always running to the store.

We just got home, everyone had a cold shower and bath and are winding down for the night.
We also just received a message from the man who was buying our car. He is in South Africa and found a vehicle and it is heading back here. So hopefully next week we should be able to have it. Which would be great!

4 weeks ago today we landed in Africa!


  1. Want to flag (feel free to re-post) an opinion-editorial I co-wrote visiting the World Vegetable Center in Arusha, Tanzania with their director Abdou Tenkouano published today in the Kansas City Star. I am currently in Madagascar, traveling across Africa for the Worldwatch Insitute and blogging everyday on a site called "Nourishing the Planet" []. I pasted the article below. All the best, Danielle Nierenberg (

    Cultivating food security in Africa, Kansas City Star

  2. God bless you Megan. Thank you for sharing your experiences so far. So helpful to know how to pray for you all. Your words and candid reports will be used as a means of sanctification in our home and I am sure in many others who read them.

    I was so excited to get the email from James today. May the Lord's face shine upon you, may His great and abundant grace be your strength in all of these adjustments and "shiftings."

    Read and prayed over Colossions 3 this morning.. I know, coupled with your report, the Lord is giving us encouragement to "find our life in Christ." Keep looking up and soon we will appear with Him in glory! God bless you and keep you...

    By the way... the attached picture is our new baby boy. He was born February 1st and his name is Jackson Daniel... Thought you might like the name...

    Love in Christ,
    Adam Davies

  3. Thank you, Megan, for posting your blog for us. I read and cried and cried along with you. I imagine a tiny bit of what you must be going through and the big adjustment of adapting to the new living arrangement. I spent a month in rural Mexico one- no electricity or running water, no bathroom or even outhouse, no one else who understood English. it was a real eye-opener. Learning to be cheerful and thankful in a strange land isn't easy.

    But God is good, and He will give you and your family comfort and joy as you bring the good news of the gospel. Your children are learning how to be thankful for the things we all take for granted over here. You will all build Kingdom relationships and realize many divine appointments. I'm excited about the gospel of sovereign grace being preached in a land that has been infested with the prosperity doctrines. I thank God for true pastors and their supporting families. your blog is a blessing, thank you, dear sister.

    Roxanne from Amazing Grace Church, Catskill, NY