Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Hundred Thanks

Submitted by Marlin Rice, Z8 Agricultural Director (HCC), Dec. 20th, 2009

On Sunday, December 22, we drove the mini-bus and the truck to the Kamena church—out in the bush 22 miles from Serenje. The road is not always easily passable and as Joshua said, it is “too much bad.” Somewhere along the way we hit something that gave the mini-bus a rattle so we made temporary repairs by crawling under the engine and tying on a wire.

The worship at Kamena opened with the men and women singing in beautiful, rhythmic a cappella hymns. The small, mud-brick building was packed with worshippers and 115 children were seated and kneeling on the broken cement floor at the front of the church. Navice introduced me to the congregation and then delivered an impassioned message in Bemba. After the service, it seemed that the entire congregation stayed around to observe the distribution of clothing. Navice, Freddie, and I handed out new dresses, shirts, pants, sweatshirts, and shoes to the 100 orphans sponsored by the Hope Center. It was a delight to see the surprise and joy on the faces of the children, many of whom were wearing only filthy rags for clothing. Afterward, the children waved their thanks for Cornerstone’s generosity.

To finish out our Sunday at Kamena, several of us climbed the granite “whaleback” just outside the village. The top of this 440-foot high granite outcropping gave us a beautiful view of the forests and fields around Kamena. Navice and I had spent a wonderful week laboring together planting crops and distributing clothing. It was the best of times in the Lord’s service.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Unwanted Guests at the Guesthouse

Submitted by Marlin Rice, Z8 Agricultural Director (HCC), Dec. 20th, 2009

We have a wonderful, new guesthouse on the property with two bedrooms, two baths, and a kitchen. There is a porch with a couple of outside lights and after the rains, if the lights are left on at night the insects coming swarming in.
Some are beautiful, such as the moth.
Some are striking, such as the longhorned beetle.
Some are bizarre, such as the mole cricket.
And some are just plain unwanted. Thousands of winged termites buzzed around the lights looking for a mate, then fell to the floor where they shed their four wings and died and then I had to walk across them, which crushed hundreds. They created a mess and I swept up dead termite bodies and thousands of wings all week long.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Jesus Loves Who?

Submitted by Marlin Rice, Z8 Agricultural Director (HCC), Dec. 20th, 2009

The children at the Hope Center love to draw and color with markers. They don’t get this opportunity in the public school, but three new packets of markers and a ream of paper gave them the materials to explore their artistic talents.

I wrote “JESUS LOVES” and each child’s name on a sheet of paper. A number 2 pencil is all they have in school, so when given 48 colored markers they had a blast decorating their papers. Here Linda and Promise share their artwork.

Chalwe was so excited to have his photograph taken that he forgot to turn his artwork right side up. Chalwe was having a rough week. He had spilled boiling water on the top of his foot, which had burned a golfball-sized hole into his skin. All week long Chalwe had hobbled to school, the Hope Center, and then back home with one shoe on his left foot and a shoe-less right foot with a nasty burn, but he usually had a smile on his face.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Would You Like Fried Caterpillars WIth That Meal?

Submitted by Marlin Rice, Z8 Agricultural Director (HCC), Dec. 20th, 2009

Cornerstone Church has been given the privilege to partner with the Serenje church “to look after orphans…in their distress” (James 1:24). Approximately 50 children get one meal a day along with Bible teaching. When the children arrive after school, Navice would gather them around the tables and read a Bible story in Bemba. They loved this time with Navice.

Women from the church arrive mid morning to prepare the daily meal over a charcoal fire. The meal always consists of enshima (boiled white maize) and we have a supply of 74 bags of maize harvested from the crops we planted at the Center last year.

The enshima is given a side of rape (boiled greens) and beans or kapenta (dried minnows) reconstituted in an onion and tomato sauce. The children love the kapenta, but the overwhelming smell of dead fish kept me from eating it more than once.

Sometimes fresh vegetables are purchased in the Serenje market when the supply runs low at the Hope Center. One day Navice and I went to the market on a shopping trip. The sights, sounds, and aromas of the market are a sensory delight; they never fail to accentuate the African experience.

We found that dried caterpillars were the newest item in the market—big black caterpillars with spines or white caterpillars the size of my thumb. Navice assured me that they were a delicacy, and being an entomologist I knew I would have to eat some. Kettie sautéed them in the onion and tomato sauce, then presented them for lunch. They were chewy and after eating three of each kind, I decided that I had fully captured the experience. The children were given the rest of the sautéed caterpillars and they gobbled them down.

Monday, December 21, 2009

It Takes Two for Success

Submitted by Marlin Rice, Z8 Agricultural Director (HCC), Dec. 20th, 2009

The spring rains begin to fall in November confirming that it was time to begin planting crops in Zambia. I returned to Serenje on November 14 after driving the 255 miles from Lusaka with Festus Kalunga - the son of Pastor Navice and Kettie. Festus is a delightful young man with an infectious smile and it was a blessing to have a traveling companion who spoke Bemba. We found some giant mushrooms along the roadside and he was excited to give them to his sister to cook.

November had brought considerable rainfall and the countryside was lush and green; it was just beautiful.

The rains also brought out the chameleons and we saw many crossing the road in their slow, stilted, hesitating walk.

The gardens at the Hope Center also benefited from the rains. Joshua and Shadrach had planted rows and rows of tomatoes, onions, rape, patches of pumpkin vines, and two large plots of maize, which would be roasted for the children when the ears were ready. The garden was lush, and with the coming of the rains, Joshua would no longer need to carry buckets of water to irrigate the garden.

But the rains also encouraged the weeds. Weeding the gardens and fields is a very difficult and time-consuming task with the traditional hoe. I brought three wheel hoes with me to the Hope Center—graciously provided by Gary Clem. Navice and Joshua quickly learned how the wheel hoes would increase their efficiency in weeding the gardens. Shadrach soon abandoned his traditional hoe after he observed that weeding a row of onions required only one minute with a wheel hoe, but 15 minutes with his traditional hoe! By the end of the week, most of the weeds in the garden had fallen victim to Shadrach and the wheel hoe.

A major objective of my trip was to work along side Navice, Freddie, and Joshua in the planning and planting of the crops. We were blessed with an additional 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres) to plant our crops this year. Navice and I bought the maize seed in Serenje at a store called Chinchi Wababili, which means “it takes two for success.” This became our motto for the week and Navice and I would use it to remind each other when we encountered an unexpected challenge.

To plant the maize, Navice and Joshua had the new ground plowed with a tractor to break up the clumps of elephant grass, then they coordinated a crew of 11 men with traditional hoes to level the ground, remove the clumps of grass, stretch a 490-foot rope across the field to mark straight rows, dig small divots along the rope for the seed, drop the seed one at a time into the hole, and then cover the seed with soil. Having grown up planting maize by this method, Joshua was experienced and extremely fast. I told him he was a machine, which brought a big smile to his face! The entire maize-planting process was a very labor-intensive process, but in between the rains, which fell almost daily, we planted 7.4 acres of maize in five days—all with hoes and by hand!