Monday morning comes with the wonderful tonic of a jet lag that gets me up very early in the morning. I enjoy an early morning cup of coffee walking outside of the wall that surrounds the guest house to view the local Muslim population going to and from the mosque for their morning prayers. I head over to the church for morning prayer with Pastor Tembo and others. The arrival of the kids going to what used to be called “Life Plan School” begin to arrive. They use two Sunday school rooms, a third room has been added on since Pastor Tembo has taken charge of “holding the bag” and one class meets in the sanctuary. More about the school later, but for now it is one of my favorite Zambian moments, sharing time with the young men of the church. The conversation moves all over the map with special comments reserved for our new “African” president. They have all heard me explain the issues that motivate a Christian to vote Republican in American politics, abortion and homosexuality issues for starters, but the attractions of a President Obama are difficult to resist while talking to these young men. Some complaining, the same complaints I heard two years ago, Pastor Tembo doesn’t let us outreach like we used to, the translation: he doesn’t let us use the equipment whenever we want to. A good opportunity to talk of the blessing of flowing with headship.
Pastor Tembo, who is giving me time with the young men, comes and gives me his phone with Jeff Day on the line. Laura Michelle’s luggage has arrived and he will pick it up for us and drop it at the Lusaka church where I can come and pick it up. It is road trip time in Zambia. Trips to Lusaka are a part of life for everyone living in Mazabuka. There are those who do business, buying things in Lusaka and selling them in Mazabuka, as well as the constant need to see a relative or do official business, so trips to Lusaka are a part of everyone’s life. I made many of those trips and divided my trips into family trips and trips where I was going by myself and I would open up the vehicle to anyone needing to make the trip. I would drop everyone off with a pre-arranged time to meet and return to Mazabuka. So this will be a trip to Lusaka with all of the young men I am with. Making a trip with the young men is different, because they are not coming with me to accomplish tasks, they are just coming to accompany me, with the knowledge of a meal together while we are down there. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is for me and them.
I go back to the guest house to hear the girl’s plans and let them know mine and we head off in our different directions. I meet back at the church to pick up the guys, Alvah has heard that I am making a trip to Lusaka, he joins us, saving some money, to get to his bus going North. Lots of loud voices, different languages, my camera being used by Brian as we make our way to Lusaka. I paid for parentless Brian’s school fees go to Life Plan. I handed out a copy of short stories, usually “Chicken Soup” stories, we read them, looking up the words with the dictionaries given to us from Wickenburg, and then they wrote an essay. All of this is very different from a normal Zambian classroom, where the notes are written on a board, copied, memorized and then tested on it. Brian, from lack of consistent schooling struggled with the format, but was able to formulate thoughts better and better through the one year I did this. Graduated now, (even has money for me to buy him a laptop) (just got to get it to him), and still wants to be a preacher. He is a natural leader. We make the traditional banana stop on our way into Lusaka for our morning breakfast.
All of these guys are single with the exception of Alvah, returning North to wife and job, and Rroyd, presently out of work and depressed about it. Funny how the guys who are married manage to find a job in a nation with 80% unemployment. "Men and Marriage" by Gilder still the book of choice to explain why. Most from the older gang of young people have moved on in life and it is nice to see many of these young guys who didn’t feel part of the gang while I was here now feel most comfortable with me now and comfortable in their places of ministry in the church. Excuse the use of the word “gang” to describe this sense of male camaraderie, but I think you understand what I am talking about. Suddenly there is a hush throughout the van, Rroyd has received a phone call and his waving for silence. Rroyd, called to be a preacher, is getting a phone call from “Sugar”. They want him to come in for a medical exam, which is a guaranteed job. There is joy in the camp. There is an ability to share every little victory that any person might experience that is different from America. In America, we all are expected to have victory, for those who don’t we have various forms of assistance, in Zambia, where the defeats of life can be overwhelming; another person’s victory brings hope to everyone. Check out the Tembo film web site to see one of my favorite Rroyd stories. He definitely has a David’s lion and bear testimony.
We arrive at the church, the guys oohh and aahh over the Lusaka equipment. There is Christopher, the pastor in Choma, eating something before heading back. The last time I was here I spent mornings with Jeff and 3 of his guys including Christopher, his staff, each morning after prayer. My last morning with them I cooked up my pork neck and eggs dish for an enjoyable end of my time with them. All three of those guys are out pastoring now in key churches in Zambia. This leaves Jeff without administrative help, here in Zambia, that means a lot of time spent doing a lot of small chores that have a way of eating up your time. Christopher seems to know all of the guys as they all exchange excited greetings. Seeing a question in my face he explains that all of these guys and many more came down for an outreach in Choma. Knowing what that entailed I offered up a meek: “too wild” and his response was you can’t take the Africa out of Africans. He went on to describe a great outreach and he really appreciated their help. It helped allay my seeming sense of guilt over the celebratory nature of the Mazabuka guys at an outreach.
It was time for lunch as we took the normal driver of the Lusaka van with us to a nshima place across from the church. We all eat, having our cokes with our meals as we watch the football match. Everyone here knows where each team stands, what bracket they are in and what their odds are of winning or advancing. We eat and as we are finishing it is a major task to figure out the total on the bill. Timothy is helping them with the head count to get the bill organized. I come up to pay the bill ask for a discount because of the large number. They don’t have too but they do. I enjoy a Zambian being gracious to a white man, verses getting everything they can get, it takes more out of them than you can imagine. The discount becomes their tip as we all leave happy.
The return home is a little more subdued, we get back to the guesthouse where the guys thrive on a little time with the girls. Laura Michelle is thrilled to have her luggage. I take the guys back to the church, return and start getting ready for service. There is a problem when I return. The girls let me know that some of their jewelry had been taken out of their room while they were out and about today. This immediately changes all of the dynamics of our stay here, yet I don’t have time to realize it since we need to get going to church. I ask the girls to make sure, they do and just before leaving for church I let the manager know that the girls had someone steal some of their jewelry. We go to church with a cloud hanging over us. I preach on the parable of the invitations to the feast. We are all fighting to be right and do right for the church at this time. No, we won’t be talking about what happened.
After, the rounds of taking people home, we make it back to the guest house, where the owner, the manager and a subdued gardener sitting on the floor against the wall await us. I send Joan and the girls to the girl’s room while I hear what is going on. They are terribly sorry, and nothing like this has ever happened before. The manager had done some investigating of her own and found the jewelry wrapped up in a towel in the gardener’s shed. He must have reached inside the open window and grabbed the jewelry. I am listening and watching as they confess for the gardener. They end with a return of the jewelry and letting me know that the gardener’s future is now in my hands. I ask him a few questions: church? 7th day, family: wife and kids. I have always made it clear in my actions that I believe a crime needs to be punished. Something doesn’t sit right, and I just thank them, and tell them they can handle the gardener any way they think is appropriate. I go back to the girls and Joan and share the story. The girls see to many holes in the story. First of all the jewelry wasn’t sitting out in the open by the window, it was in a case in a suitcase. They insist that it must have been someone in the room not just reaching through the window. Yes, we all felt uncomfortable with our South African (am I casting stereotypes) manager insisting on cleaning our rooms despite our protests and then after cleaning leaving the windows wide open. It has been a long day for all of us.
We go to sleep that night, but things are just not right in paradise.