Wednesday, February 8, 2012

January 2012

In January 2012, a team of 6 people traveled from Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa to the Hope Children’s Center in Serenje, Zambia.

This team consisted of Marlin & Kay Rice, brothers Randy and Phil Brekke, and their dad James, and me (Rachel Wise).

Marlin has been working for 3+ years on the agriculture project at HCC, called Z8. He spent much of this trip working with the garden staff and planted/transplanted quite a few banana trees to increase the food production on the property.

Marlin's mens group had donated funds to help the orphans in the outlying areas. So after church on the weekend we were blessed to be able to distribute banana tree along with mealie-meal (ground corn meal), beans, and fruit seeds with fertilizer.

Kay has a passion for the 60 children that are part of the HCC program, so she spent her mornings and afternoon teaching Bible lessons and using hands on illustrations to tell the kids about God.

One day the lesson talked about how we are like banana trees: the trees need sun, water, and nutrients to grow, and we need the Bible, fellowship, and prayer to grow as Christians. After the lesson, each child was given a banana tree to plant in the orchard at HCC so that the children would not only have fresh fruit next year, but they would be reminded about growing in their relationship with God each time they see the trees.

Randy, Phil, and James had a lofty goal of laying 1600 feet of field tile during the week. And with great, motivated workers, they accomplished that! This may not seem like a big deal until you remember that the trenches were all dug completely by hand.

Randy and James also spent time as the fix-it guys around HCC, doing everything from fixing vehicles to re-welding the much loved swing sets.

I spent my time floating between projects and meeting with the staff to discuss the future of HCC. One of the most fun parts of my week was hanging out with the older group of kids – grade 8 and up. We had many rousing games of 4-square and good Bible study times.

One of the most unique parts of my week was eating rat. Yes you read that right, rat. Sometime during the week the workers (and Phil) caught a rat and mouse and told us they were going to cook them up for dinner. Rat there is a delicacy. So we watched them char the rodents on the coals, scrape the hair off, and split it open to remove the insides. Then Joshua, one of the HCC staff, wanted to make sure I knew how to cook it. NO tomatoes. NO onions. Just salt and water. I corrected him and said, “Salt. Water. Mouse!” Yes, he said, “Salt. Water. Mouse!” I now know how to prepare rodent. I can’t say that I ate very much, but the Zambians were very excite to eat it – the head included. The little piece I did eat was SOOOO salty that I needed nshima (the national staple food of boiled white corn) to cut the taste.

(Later Joshua, one of the HCC staff, caught a crab and we asked if he was going to eat it. He looked at us with disgust like we did with the rat. But I think he cooked it up and tried it!)

Kay and I were also able to deliver the letters that Cornerstone kids had written to the Zambian kids as part of the KidConnect program. The children there were VERY excited to read their letters and they sat down right away to write a response or draw a picture for their new friend from Iowa.

After our time at HCC, we took 2 days to sight see. You can’t go all the way to Africa and not see some things. So we drove 12 hours to get stuck at a Ferry crossing into the country of Botwsana. In the meantime we visited Victoria Falls and when we finally made it across the border, we had a great time seeing tons of wildlife in the Chobe National Park.

(Yes, this really is us in front of a bunch of elephants! Its not a backdrop. :) )