Monday, June 17, 2013

Loving Living in Chipata

What I love about living in Zambia

While there are other places in this world that certainly may seem more “appealing”... like being called to Hawaii, I love that we are ministering in Zambia. It definitely has its setbacks. Round trip tickets would be much easier to purchase regularly if we were called to Peru. Or Dominican. Also, I don’t particularly like sharing my home with no less than 9 species of ants. Just a personal preference. That there are three of the most deadly snakes in this region, and perhaps the greatest global killer buzzes my room on a nightly basis while I sleep, also plays a role in putting this place in the “less than romantic” category of the “Best Places to Live”, still, I love living in Zambia. 
Micah and Savannah Walking the Great EastWest Road.... eating Sugar Cane. 
Yes, we are missionaries. Yes, God has placed a special love in my heart for these people. With that being said, I imagine there has been a great more mysterious work in my heart and head by the Lord than I can even fathom. Glory will certainly reveal it all. 

All that being said and aside, I love living here. I pray this is not a result of my obvious “honeymoon” phase. Three months is hardly a long time. I think, though, that to rehearse the good things about any situation goes a long way to gaining contentment. No matter where you are. Some may call it optimism. Others may say it is being spiritual. There may be a personality slant that causes me to want to “look on the bright side”. Whatever it is, I am glad that I can! Also, I am glad that I don’t have to look very hard to find thing to appreciate here! 

I love the Saturday Market. 

I would start with something in the food category! Why it is called Saturday market I have no idea, because it goes on six days a week! Regardless, it is great. Whatever is in season can be found. Tomatoes, onions, peppers, dry beans, potatoes, cabbage, and green beans are always in season somewhere and are a staple to the diets here. Dried fish of many varieties is also readily available. Gross, but available! Each day the price of things varies, and it is always fun. Green beans will go from K3 to K10 in price for a “cup”. Basically the cup is a small plastic mug that is heaped up and another little handful tossed in for basera, “a gift”. As a reference, K5 is about $1. I will often spend K20 ($4.00) and get enough veggies for a week! 

I love that they have a European style work day. 

Basically that means they usually open around 8 am close about 12 ish until 2 ish, then open again until 4:30 or so. Notice all of the vague language! It can be nerve wracking at times for we very time-driven Americans. Many times we have gone to the shops, and waited by a locked gate for someone to open the shop. Forget fines to the establishment for not holding to the posted store hours! (You can tell I have previous shopping mall-based experience!) For some reason, though, I like the laissez faire of it all. 

I love the Multiculturalism. 

Whether white, brown or black skinned, when talking to someone for the first time, one never knows what accent will come out! Muslim looking people that speak with an Indian/African accent, Blacks that speak like Brits, and whites that have a German flair. Or American, which more often than not, throws me off now! The way people dress, commute, shop. It is all so different! 

I love that you can buy bread on the corner.

There are two grocery stores in Chipata: Spar and Shoprite. There is another store called Highway bakery. Pretty much if you want bread, one of those is the choice. Bread goes for K4, and only highway sells sliced. It costs K6. Yeah, I know! In any event... opinions on who has the best bread is up for grabs. Mostly because depending on the day, bread form any place tastes different! There are people that go to the grocery stores (Not Highway!) in the morning and buy dozens of loaves, and then take them to their staked our corner. Most of the stores open around 8 and close around 6 or 7, but because of the bread hawkers, there is usually no bread! They sell you the bread on the corner for K5.5 and pocket the difference. This is literally their job! Entrepreneurialism at its best! They are there on the corner morning, noon and night. If I am ever driving home after 7 or 8 pm, and I will often get a loaf just to be on the safe side, and pull over and several will come running to the car door to be the one to score the sale. “Madame, Shoprite or Spar!” “White or Brown!” Invariably, they will not have change! I am sure it is their ploy. Two loaves, K11. All I have is K12 (10 and a 2). “Keep the change!” Music to their ears! So I pay the extra for them selling on the corner, and give then Basera for the convenience! 

I love that it is unpredictable. 

The power is sketchy. The internet is speedy for a minute, and then painfully slow for hours. Because I am on a bore hole (a well), I am blessed to have water. It needs to be purified to drink and I don’t cook with it either, but it runs regularly. A far cry from our missionary partners up the hill a ways! We are blessed to supply them once in a while! A bit of inconvenience on their part, but I enjoy the unexpected visits and usually the tea and conversation that accompany them! Everything is unpredictable except the weather, which totally throws me off because that is the exact opposite of the previous 45 years of my life! There will be sun nearly every day. If it is the wet season, there will be rain too. But sun before and after the rain! And I love that the Whole Town gets in a flurry because new street lights get installed at the only intersection (of many!) that has a light! 
The New Robot (light) 
I love that I have (almost!) become a morning person. 

It seems that by 6 am, most days, I am awake. That is not the way I was in the states! I think my nocturnal chemistry thrives in this environment.  One theory I have is perhaps my body is still on EST and waking up at 6 am in my current time zone is midnight in my native timezone! Regardless, I like being up early. Usually by 9pm I am pretty tired. This place literally shuts down by 6pm. The sun is completely down regardless of the season, and seriously there is little to do after that. There is no mall, no little restaurant to get a quick bite, no coffee shop to catch up with friends at. Driving after dark is akin to suicide or insanity at best, so friends here are of the same opinion. At 6, we all shut’r down. We currently have no TV. (Well we have one, it just doesn’t work! We need a little convertor. Waiting for a box!) Usually after a few rounds of Boggle, Scrabble, or Farkle, the night is ready to be put to bed.  Or a movie on the projector and it is everyone to their own corner. We love our kindle apps, and solitaire or FourPics are great games, but seriously. After two to three hours of any of it we all need a little alone time! 

I love that I have bananas growing in my yard. 
And not only Bananas! Mango, lemon, orange, papaya, coconut, custard apple (I know, I had to google it too!), grenadilla, and a bunch of herbs. Seriously a fruit salad. Except they arent all ready at the same time, but still! I hope to start an avocado tree. Won’t bear fruit for years to come, but I can be patient! 

Bananas, Lemons and Poinsettia Tree, all in my yard! 

I love that Life Survives in even the Harshest of Conditions. 

That goes for people as well as plants and animals! The leaf in the picture above is growing through a brick wall. There are little plants growing all over in cement drive ways and concrete walkways. Dogs roam the streets everywhere! You wouldn't believe the canine serenade that begins every night after dark. Tens of dozens of dogs all howling, barking and scrapping their way through the night. But the people, as well seem to thrive on almost nothing. No real money, no real education to speak of, very little hope and even less opportunity. That is perhaps one of the blessings though. These people are tenacious. They are strong of heart. That "life" has dealt them a less than optimal situation, they survive. 

That was not our Saviors plan, though, was it? Survival? In this life only? Ah, no. Not that at all! His plan is LIFE, and that More Abundantly!! 

I love that the Lord has allowed us to be part of HIS work here in Chipata. That he has given me all these extras as well... that is just part of how Good He Is!! 

sig 2