Thursday, June 21, 2007

Muli Bwangi!

For those of you non-Nyanja speakers, that's "How are you?" We'd love to answer our own question there and tell you that things here are GREAT! The 36 hour travel wasn't too bad. This was the first time I've flown to Zambia through London, and I liked it. Our arrival came as a bit of a surprise to all, because through a confusion of itineraries, they were expecting us on Tuesday, not Monday.
I didn't worry too much when no one was there to pick us up at the airport, I just figured everyone who could was off doing MWB work. No big deal. We changed money, got a taxi and showed up at the Chikusu's home. You can imagine what a surprise we were to Kathy. Because there wasn't any room that night at the backpackers lodge we stayed at the Chikusu's. They are my Zambian family. I've lived with them each year I've been here, so it's just like being at home again. Tuesday was a pretty relaxing day, which was nice. Yesterday we moved from the Chikusu's to Mike and Pam Headlee's house because they're out of town with Kathy for a few days. We're having a lot of fun playing 'house' in Zambia. It's kind of like we REALLY live here! Nate has been working with Innocent, the country director for MWB, on accounting stuff and me, well, I'm just playing house like a good Zambian wife does. Yesterday while they worked in the morning, I baked cookies and surfed the net. I guess the latter of those two isn't so Zambian though. I stayed busy though, really I did! The recipe for my most successful chocolate chip cookie making in Zambia yet was a good one. Everyone loves the chocolate chips here.
Cooking ANYTHING here, even cookies, is such a long process. There's no garbage disposal, the trash is outside, no dishwasher and sometimes not even warm water to wash the dishes. Space is limited, but everything culinary is still possible, just not as easy. After Nate and Innocent finished working, we headed off with Innocent to go pick up three more kids that are being placed at the Children's Resource Center. Three more! That makes 24 people out there, I think. Funny how parents of just a few kids wonder if there's enough love to share.
There's always enough! We watched as Innocent and Josephine gathered clothes and bedding for the kids and then placed them with the other kids out at the CRC. Nate absolutely loved seeing the kids. And, of course, he got some great pictures. I can't believe how much the kids have grown in a year. Part of me pictures them at their age four years ago when I met them for the first time. They've grown so much. Evans, one of my dearest 'little' boys is now 17, all muscular and finally has a deep voice. I can't believe it. We caught up with the boys at their school playing soccer and one at a time during the game they all ran over and said, "Hi Auntie Dianna" and gave me a hug. I love being back here. Today Nate and Innocent are back at Quickbooks training and, well, I baked a pie. Before Pam left she told me three separate times, "Those pie shells are fresh, bake a pie." You have to know Pam Headlee to know that making pie crust is the least of her culinary accomplishments here. The other night she made us baked ziti, a delicious green salad (with pretty much everything in it from her garden here), steamed green beans, and peasant bread. Oh, and I can't forget the carrot cake and delicious fruit salad for dessert. At home I make a mess a lot of the time in the kitchen, especially with pie crust, so I figured that since she did the hardest part, I could fill it. Maybe I'll post that recipe too, if it turns out! This trip isn't like the ones in the past have been, but it's still wonderful. On our first night here we ate dinner with the big expedition team that's here, and Nate asked me if I missed being a team leader. I would go back to leading a team in a heartbeat, but I love what we're doing here. No, I will not be baking the whole time I'm here, I actually do have some 'serious' responsibilities, it's just that the first few days are slow. This different experience is just allowing me to take in being here, which I tend to miss out on a bit because I'm working so hard to make sure everything with the team is running as it should. For our families especially, we are healthy, happy and safe. Nate loves it here. He can't believe how happy the people are. I am grateful to have him here for so many reasons. I think one of the best ones is that there's something special about being able to be with someone who is seeing it all for the first time. It reminds me even more what a blessed experience this is. We feel blessed beyond measure to have this time and are reminded each day with what we see and do that we have much to be grateful for.

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