Friday, August 30, 2013

My Shower This Morning

At the airport in London with a sleeping Joel
We arrived back in Zambia yesterday, after two days of travel, and two red-eye flights. We were tired and dirty and ready for a bed and a shower. We found our beds with ease and joy, but the shower was not so easily obtained. We are in the dry season in Zambia, and water can sometimes be hard to find. And so, yesterday, we skipped showers and decided to rest instead.

But this morning, I was not going to miss a shower. There was no hot water, but there was, at least, cold water, so I got into the shower and rinsed myself despite the frigid temperature. I turned the water off, shampooed my hair, washed my body, and turned the water back on. But nothing came out. The water was gone. With shampoo in my hair and soap on my body, I found my way into the kitchen and grabbed a bucket of stored water. It was just enough to rinse off, and I finally felt clean. Cold, but clean.

What I did not realize was that this was the last bucket of stored water. Because we had been gone for a month, we had not stored enough water, and it was all gone. There was not a drop in our house. Nothing for brushing teeth, nothing for washing hands, nothing for cooking. I had used the very last of our water to rinse off the soap.

Fortunately, there is a borehole on the campus where we live, so I got ready, and grabbed an empty bucket, and left the house. On my walk to the borehole, I ran into some friends I had not seen in awhile, and also saw my boss, who happened to be visiting another colleague. We had a great conversation, and then I proceeded to the borehole. I filled my bucket, and began to walk back to our house. It was not a long walk, and the water was heavy, but I enjoyed the sunshine and greeting my friends on the way. Needless to say, by the time I arrived home, I was thoroughly warmed up from the cold shower.

At home, we purified the water, brushed our teeth, and had breakfast. It felt great to be clean and rested, to be home.

Just taking a shower, just getting water to brush our teeth, just making breakfast, can be challenging. We are out of gas for our stove, and a city-wide shortage of gas has prevented us from refilling our tank. But this morning, there was electricity, and we have a back-up hot plate, and so I was able to make french toast. It was delicious, and we even had maple syrup that we brought back with us from Michigan. A good morning.

During our month in the US, many people that I met with commented on how hard life must be for us in Zambia. There are certainly aspects of life here that are harder for us; water is a huge issue during the dry season. But, I didn't have to worry about rushing, so I wouldn't be late for work; people here understand if I am late, and there is a culture of grace that surrounds us when things go wrong. And on the walk to get water, I could stop and talk to my friends, run into my boss, enjoy the warmth of the sun, and the friendliness of my neighbors. This morning didn't feel hard; it felt blessed.

While we were in the US, I could not believe the number of people who offered their time, their money, their kindness, and their support to us. The generosity that we encountered in churches, among friends, and from family, was overwhelming and beautiful. So many of you came to worship services, presentations, and meals, to hear about our work in Zambia and to offer encouragement, kindness, money, and prayers. We were prayed for in beautiful ways, and I felt showered with the warmth of love and the power of generous lives.

Life here is good. It is beautiful and lovely and hard and meaningful. And so much about our lives here is good because of our partners in Zambia, and because of our partners in the United States. There are miracles that happen, and they happen when we travel together (if you heard me preach last month, you heard me say that a lot!) In any case, my shower this morning reminded me of a few things: I have to walk for water on occasion, many people have to walk for water multiple times a day. My walk is short, theirs is often very long. I have a way to purify the water, others do not. And later today, the water came back on, and my children we able to bathe in warm water. We are blessed - our family, and many of you in the United States. But when we share our blessings, when we walk together in the warm sun, when we stop and talk and listen, life abounds; we are refreshed and renewed as living water flows from generous hearts and shared lives.

So, thanks so, so, so, so, much to all of you in the United States who supported us over the past month (and over the past year), who offered your time, your money, your support to us. It was such a blessing to see you, and your kind words and encouragement and prayers mean more to us than I can describe. It feels nice to be clean, it feels great to be rested, and it feels amazing to witness the love of my friends in the US, as I am blessed to walk again with our friends here in Zambia.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Celebrating One Year

We have been so, so blessed by family and friends who have supported our ministry in amazing ways. It has been a tremendous privilege to see many of you this month, and again, to receive so much support and kindness. I am trying to summarize my gratitude in a post that is on its way....

But, for now, we thought we would share this video with you all, along with our very deep gratitude for your support! It is about a ten minute video, but I hope you can take the time to watch it, if you didn't get the chance to see it in Okemos or Louisville.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

In the US

In the month of August, my sister-in-law will have a baby, Joel’s grandma will turn 90, and my father will get married. And we have the blessing of being in the United States for all of these events. We also have the honor of sharing the stories of our Zambian colleagues and friends with churches, mission networks, and individuals in Michigan and in Louisville, Kentucky. It is a full month, with six speaking engagements, in addition to the very huge family events. But I cannot believe how blessed we are to be able to be here for all this, to share in the joy and the beauty of family life here in the US, and to testify to the joy and beauty of our Zambian friends.

As the month progresses, I am sure I will have a lot to share, as our niece is born, as my father is married, as Grandma VP celebrates 90 years of life. But I also would love to see those of you who are in Michigan, as we speak about our ministry in Zambia, and continue on this journey together. When we walk together, beautiful things happen, and I am excited to be walking in the United States today, to invite more and more people to join us on this journey, connecting God’s children across the globe.

Below is our US speaking schedule. Some of these events have already occurred, but if you are in the area, please join us for one of the upcoming activities. We would love to see you! If you can’t join us, and would like to connect while we are in the US, please feel free to be in touch this month, and we would be very happy to talk with you.

July 31st, Speaking at ZZM Mission Network, Louisville, KY
August 5th, Preaching at Edgewood UCC, East Lansing, 10am
August 18th, Preaching at Presbyterian Church of Okemos, 10am
August 18th, Community Presentation, Presbyterian Church of Okemos, 4pm     
August 25th, Preaching at 1st Presbyterian, Lansing, 10am
Date TBD, Speaking in Ann Arbor/Manchester, MI