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Monday, June 23, 2008

Love Letters (News) - Living Well

For the past month and a half, Karen, Matthew, Lydia, and I have been learning how to live well as a family in Zambia. Everything is going well and we find living in Zambia is healthier and more enjoyable than living in an apartment in the states.


Our primary goal for our first year here is to learn. We want to learn how to live as a healthy family spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. We also want to learn the language (kiKaonde) and the Kaonde culture.


One of the nicest things about living here is our back yard. We share the yard with the Bruingtons who live in the other side of our duplex. Bart built a brick wall enclosing a yard about 200 by 150 feet. They had brought a trampoline over and this week he will finish constructing a jungle gym. The yard is safe place for Matthew and Lydia to play with little surveillance. For the first time since Matthew was born, the children are able to entertain themselves without constant supervision. The worst thing that has happened so far is that Matthew threw one of the cats at Lydia and gave her a small scratch. They both love playing in the yard and often have friends over to play (the Bruingtons, Davises, or a few Zambian children which we know).


Our home is quite nice. We have a small two bedroom duplex. However, because we have very little junk we now have more room than we have ever had. Also, Bart (who constructed our house) did not complete all the furnishings because he wanted us to decide what to do. So, I have built many items for the house to complete it how we like it:

  • Additional shelving for our closets in both bedrooms
  • Large bookshelf in our hallway
  • Shelving in the bathroom
  • Entertainment/work desk in the living room
  • Large medicine cabinet in the bathroom (in progress)

Our family has been very healthy. Matthew and Lydia both got a cold with a fever about 2 weeks after being here. This is normal when moving to a new location and most likely due to the dust (there is a lot of dust here). They both were over the cold in about a week and have been perfectly healthy since then. Karen and I have both been mostly well.


During June and July we have many American visitors here doing various projects (from water well drilling to medical). Since everybody eats together, we have been eating breakfast and supper with the group at the Davises. Brian is the official cook during this time and he has learned to make many excellent meals. The meals have all had a large variety of vegetables with meat about 2-3 times a week.  Obviously, we don't have fried fast food or microwave meals, so almost everything we eat is healthy. In fact, I have already lost 2 inches from my waist from the diet and active lifestyle.


The main benefit of the Americans here is the fellowship we have with them. There are four college age girls who are interns here for about 2 months. Karen has really enjoyed knowing them and they have helped Karen adjust to the culture gradually. The interns, Sondra Davis, and Rita Boyd have all been needed friends for Karen as her best friend Amy Cates and her sister Jana Johnston are back in Dallas. I spend a large amount of time with Bart, Don Boyd, or Brian Davis so I also have developed good friendships with them.


Language learning is going well. There are many Kaonde who are willing to help us learn kiKaonde. At this point we have been learning simple greetings and phrases with basic vocabulary. However, it doesn't take much work to impress the Kaonde. There are few white people willing to learn their language. A basic sentence like "I am learning kiKaonde" is sufficient to bring amazement to their faces.


In addition, I have been able to find many resources in kiKaonde to help with language learning. I have a modern Kaonde to English dictionary, a overview of kiKaonde grammer, and many children's books with pictures. Right now I am reading a book called "Bokwe Mfumu," the Lion King (not the Disney version).


As far as technical items, we are still waiting for my work permit and our truck. This is Africa. Both were supposed to be ready three weeks ago. Don Boyd and I have traveled to Lusaka (about 9 hour bus ride) twice in order to obtain them (he was also needing to renew his work permit). Both times neither the work permits or the vehicle have been ready as promised. (We had to physically travel to Lusaka because we have report orders for the work permits). I got my report order extended and hopefully by the time the truck is ready the work permit will also be ready. I plan to take Karen and the children with me next time we go. This will give Karen a break and we will go to a nice restaurant and see a movie while we are there. This should happen in the next few weeks as soon as Toyota tells us the vehicle is ready to pick up.


Continue praying for our family.


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