Friday, July 31, 2009

A few days back in SA

It was a looong trip back from Zambia Wednesday and Thursday that went something like this: wait for the bus, ride the bus to Lusaka, take a taxi to "lodge", sleep, wake up early for taxi ride to airport, fly, ride another bus, try to smile at the new volunteers also being picked up, ride in the car home. All together, that took about 31 hours. Let's just say I'm not looking forward to Tuesday and Wednesday's travel to the U.S., which will cover many more miles.
It was a GREAT trip to Zambia...the best time I've spent yet in Kabwe. Here are a few highlights:

Spending time with Doris. Her husband Charles works for Hands at Work and their family is amazing. She has three boys, so she was thrilled to have some girl time. We drank tea and talked a lot and laughed at the boys. I've never been so comfortable in a Zambian's home. Thanks, Doris!

My visit to Baraka, which I already told you about. Here are a few of the children I met there.

The Hands at Work team in Kabwe (clockwise from left): Melody, Charles, Luckson, me, Lawrence, and Violet. What a great, dedicated bunch they are!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Coming home, and more about Zambia

It's true, we're coming home. We found out less than a week ago that Peace Corps has booked our flights for 5 weeks at home. Presumably, that means our extension has been approved! We'll land in Hibbing on August 5 and return September 9. Can't wait to see you all. It's been TOO long!

I'm in a lodge near Kabwe this morning, awaiting the arrival of a team of 8 nurses from the U.S. We'll have lunch together and have a little orientation. They'll be telling the story of their mission trip online, following a similar group of nurses who visited earlier in the month. It's a great website if you can check it out.

I traveled all day Tuesday to get here. Wednesday I spent time in the office fixing computer issues and training a new administrator. Thursday, I mentioned, I visited Baraka. Friday was spent planning for the rest of the year. We have so many plan around Kabwe, but the highlights are training for all 7-9 of our community-based organizations on how to care for orphaned and vulnerable children--how to do parental home visits to care especially for child-headed households. Many of the communities we're working in now have access to free ARVs for HIV+ people, so our focus is shifting from visiting sick patients to visiting the children whose parents have died.

Sometimes when I talk about home visits, I'm struck by how basic it the idea is, to get into children's homes and really care for them like parents. But it's really not. Just consider that there are lots of hurting kids in Hibbing; it's not always easy to tell who needs help unless you get into their home (through relationship) and really get to know what's happening there. It's the same in Africa, except the problem is magnified. There are children who have stood by the graves of both of their parents, who are left alone all day to care for younger siblings, who have no one. It's so easy for their neighbors to continue living life, not noticing the hurt that his there and the desperation. People are everywhere, and yet these children are incredible alone. A neighbor coming into their home, spending time with them, really listening, teaching them basic life skills like cooking and cleaning, washing clothes, asking them how school is...showing compassion--it can transform the world for that child.

The Bible couldn't be more clear in it's mandate that the Church cares for the vulnerable in their communities, and Zambians are responding to overwhelmingly to that call. People are sharing what little they have with those who need it most. Those words don't capture how incredible it is to see someone who isn't sure where tomorrow's meal will come from, share the little they have with their neighbor. It blows me away.

I'm learning so much! I'll be up in Luanshya for a few days, then back to SA on the 30th. That only leaves me a few days to pack and get ready for a month home. Wow! It sure is coming fast!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Brooke in Baraka

Just a quick update from Zambia to say all is well.  It’s a quick 9 day trip, but it’s my first time going alone.  (I miss you, Jed!)  Yesterday I went out to a little village called Baraka.  When I asked how many people lived there, I was told “991 after deaths.  We used to have 999 but a few people have died so I counted again last week.”  I met a man who has organized a community school there, where he and 3 other volunteers teach 125 children Grade 5 and under.  The nearest government school is 7km away.


I’ll try to post a photo if I can get to an Internet cafe. 


Much love,

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pam and Jed

Aren't they cute? This photo is way overdue, since Pam's been home for weeks, but I just like it so much I wanted to share it with you. We had such a good time with Pam here. She really shares our heart for Africa, and it was such a blessing to be able to show her why we love it here. We love you, Pam!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, Kristal!

Our friend Kristal turned 23 yesterday, and what a celebration we had! [Happy birthday, Kristal! We love you so much. Thanks for your encouragement and for laughing with us!] You can tell we love Kristal, because who else could convince Jed to dress up like a pirate and actually show himself in public?! Enjoy...

The birthday girl

Brooke and Jed

Argh! (Yes, Jed is wearing an earring)

The full ensemble--impressive, no?