Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mirinda had her baby!

Thanks to those of you that sent beautiful hand-made blankets with my dad to give to sweet Mirinda. The baby was swaddled in far too many layers (in my humble opinion), but Mirinda is rightly proud of her little one and was especially delighted to show off her little man in "American clothes."

The baby does not yet have a name. Traditionally, fathers name their children so we are waiting on Dead-Beat Dad to show up (still hasn't seen his son though he was born 5 days ago). I suppose I should be more gracious toward this man, but I am still holding a grudge (he proposed to Mirinda and failed to mention that he is ALREADY MARRIED). Hmph.

These pics were taken at a UCZ church in Kalalalushi where I taught my last class! Sad. In 2 short weeks I leave beautiful Zambia and I can hardly believe that this incredible season of life is coming to an end.

Showing emotion in public is not culturally acceptable (outside of funerals), but I had a difficult time not bursting into tears when my students stood at the end of my final lecture and began singing, "Twatotela ba mayo...Mwende bwino ba mayo" meaning "Goodbye our mother... Go well our mother."

I love teaching. Each class is fresh and new because of the wonderfully diverse students I encounter each week. The first class I ever taught was in Mazabuka "the sweetest city in Zambia" (named so for the large sugar plantation that sits in the center of town) where warm, hospitable, but very poor farmers welcomed me with open arms. It was here I was given my first chetenge, preached my first sermon in Zambia, and where my colleagues and I received cakes courtesy of a little mama (almost blind). I am constantly humbled living here. The generosity of my final class was no exception. As I was leaving the church the secretary stuffed 100,000 kwatcha in my hand (about $30) and insisted I take this for "transport money." I again had a difficult time holding back the tears. Next week I go to Lusaka to pick up my passport from the U.S. embassy and I will proudly use this money to pay for the bus. Aaaaah, Zambia.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

President Mwanawasa

The headlines in the paper this morning told us that President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa was in serious condition after suffering a serious setback in his health. He has been in France recovering from a stroke since the end of June. But this afternoon Vice President Banda announced that the president died early this morning.

With continued tension in Zimbabwe and subtle tensions growing here, I am reminded that peace and good governance is a fragile thing. In recent weeks parliament officials have given themselves scandalous pay increases. While the cat is away the mice will play. When I was in Lusaka last week there was a strong military presence in the streets which was rather odd. Soldiers in fatigues wielding weapons I’ve only seen on movies performed routine marches, but performed them in very busy streets during business hours, which was unusual. They were singing a song in Bemba that was translated for me, “Our hearts are hungry to fight.” I know that the job of a soldier is to protect the interests of a nation, but these soldiers didn’t make me feel especially secure.

I recently heard someone say, “What Zambia needs is a benevolent dictator.” My prayer is that a strong and compassionate leader will step up to the plate. Time will tell. In the meanwhile the nation grieves. This is a sad time.