Sunday, December 28, 2014

November & December Memories

 The Lusaka District finally got the Self Reliance Center up and running and even have some returned missionaries there to staff it to help people who come into the center for help with PEF loans or with the Self Reliance Workshops.  Jackson Phiri is the manager of the center and is doing a great job.

 Elder Bingham gives Jackson encouragement on keeping the center staffed and working.  More work still needs to be done and we still need a printer/scanner to make it more useful to the patrons.  Davies Makondia also helps staff the center.

Our neighbor, from India, took Stanley to show him the Tuesday market where there is an abundance of fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, etc. for purchase each Tuesday.  Pretty cute playpen for this little boy.
The market is amazing and one can find just about anything we would want and the quality is good.  This lady was also selling chickens.  She laughed and laughed when I barely touched the chicken with my fingers.  She kept telling me how soft it was.  I am so afraid of chickens but I did get brave enough to put my hand on it's back and it was soft!

Mothers just bundle up their babies and take them wherever they go.  I bought some onions and the lady helping me was nursing her baby while she was helping me bag the onions.  We see that often.

 President and Sister Erickson giving directions to the missionaries before they were served (or served themselves).  Sisters always go first.  President is trying to teach the elders some manners.
 Hungry elders just waiting for the word to "go!"  When I walked in with pies, one of the American elders said, "Oh, look!  I haven't seen a pumpkin pie since leaving the states a year ago!"
 Finally --- FOOOD!!!

 Senior missionaries - Elder & Sister Bodily; Sister & Elder Skidmore
Senior missionaries -- Elder Bingham, Sister and President Erickson, Elder & Sister Humphreys

  What a feast.  Took the senior sisters and elders two days worth of cooking but it was enjoyed by all!

On our drive to Malawi, Stanley stopped by the roadside to buy Litchi from these children.  
No matter where we go, Elder Bingham just can't pass up a herd of cows.  He has to stop and take pictures.

 We were asked by our leaders to go to Liwonde, which is a group administered by Blantyre 1st Branch, which is 1 1/2 hours away.  There was a newly returned missionary they wanted us to see if we could help.  We went to church there and we were asked to speak but we just bore our testimonies since everything had to be translated into Chechewa.  There was a good spirit there.  I was asked to help with the primary but I didn't do such a good job but it was the Christmas lesson so we sang some songs and I tried to tell the story without pictures.  After church, we went out to the farm of Dyson Mapando and his nephew, Aaron Benjamin, the returned missionary.  It was so very hot but we parked our pickup at Dyson's mother's house and walked to the farm which was on the banks of the Shire River.  I found some weeds to be shaded a little and I soon had a gathering of small children.  They are just precious!
 Aaron Benjamin on the left, Sister Bingham, Dyson's mother, Dyson Mapando and two of Dyson's daughters.
 Elder Bingham with Dyson Mapando and his nephews Aaron and younger brother in their village.
 Dyson (middle) was having difficulties with his farm and asked us to come out to see if we could give any help.  When we  got there, we found the problem was he and the other farmers in the area planted their crops, but then the numerous hippos would come out of the river at night and eat anything green then trample anything else until nothing was left. They also fish for a living but there are so many crocodiles in the river that it is very dangerous.  They use dugout canoes and Dyson's brother was killed while fishing.  The crocodile just crunched that canoe in half.  Never, never in our wildest dreams did we ever think we would have to help solve problems like this.  We have dealt with numerous predators before but never crocodiles and hippos.  We are working with them to find solutions for them.

 Finding a little shade from the relentless sun on a very, very hot humid day along the Shire River.

 Dyson was very watchful of his little children as they neared the edge of the river as we could see the crocodiles in the river.

Blantyre Sisters - Dec 2014

 Senior Sisters -- Sister Bodily, Humphreys, Skidmore, Bingham.
 Sister Bingham dishing up pies.

At the end of our Thanksgiving dinner, Sister George (who left to go home shortly after) and her companion, Sister Rakotonindriana (Madascar) sang a primary song in English and French.  It was so touching. 

 Elder Bingham mowing the grass with a slasher

 On our way back from Malawi, we stopped at the Hippo Lodge for the night.  We thought this was pretty funny but there are really hippos in the river right near by.
Elder Bingham decided swimming in the river wasn't an option!

 Sister Skidmore harvesting bananas at the mission office.

 Watching Brother Besa from the Lilanda get his maize planted.

We got home from Malawi just a few days before Christmas and I didn't have any decorations at all.  Since it was so close to Christmas I wasn't going to decorate but then found out that the Bodily's, who are fairly new, had found a tree that was pretty inexpensive so I decided I also wanted a tree.  It just makes me happy.  People don't decorate here or put up lights except at the malls.  We found a small tree and Sister Skidmore found two boxes of ornaments at the mission office and let me use them.  We were happy to decorate our apartment.  I had brought a few Christmas CD's from home and Melanie had also brought us some as well as some new Christmas movies.  We have been enjoying those.  On Christmas day we had the Bodily's over for dinner then Elder Parker, from Twin Falls, came late in the afternoon to call home.  I also fixed dinner for him and his companion and they were very appreciative.  It was fun to have an elder from Idaho.  The day after Christmas, we had a Christmas party for the entire Zambia missionaries (Malawi had one too).  I made potato salad for 65 and that was two dishpanfuls.  By the time the evening was over, the salad was gone.  Sister Erickson had arranged for chicken, pizza, pasta salad, jello salads, sodas, brownies and ice cream sundaes.  Everyone had a great time.  We had a white elephant gift exchange and that was pretty funny.  After that we watched Dickens, "A Christmas Carol."

As each of was leaving the party, President Erickson gave us copies of two talks from the last conference concerning the sacrament.  He asked each of us to read them and come prepared to be taught and to teach the next day.  The next morning we met for a continental breakfast then all went into the Lusaka Chapel and President and Sister Erickson taught us about the importance of the sacrament.  It was so spiritual and we all felt uplifted from this training.

After this was completed, we had prayer and all left to travel back to their areas and go back to work.  Later we found that eight of the elders were on a bus traveling back to the Copperbelt. Something happened to the bus and the driver didn't have control of it and it was just weaving from one side to the other of the road.  It finally came to a stop on the side of the road but didn't tip over.  We all feel the people on that bus are be beneficiaries of having elders with them and the Armies of the Nephites were controlling that bus, keeping it from tipping over.  When the bus finally got stopped and everyone got off, the elders gathered the people from the bus and offered a prayer of thanks.  What wonderful examples these young men are!

Kent & Melanie visit

 November brought us such a treat when Kent had a three days between meetings in Africa and Europe and he brought Melanie with him to visit Zambia and two lonesome missionaries.  We were all so very excited!  We took them to see our meetinghouse in Lilanda Branch.  It is a renovated home.  The lady who owns it lives in servants quarters behind the main building.  At one time this was her home when her husband was alive but after he died, she rented the main building to the church and went to live in the smaller house behind.

 Kent and Elder Bingham behind the baptismal font at the Lilanda Branch.  Water is always an issue in Africa and more than once a baptism will have to be put on hold because there just isn't water to fill the font.  It is a challenge we continually have to work with.

 We thought Kent and Melanie would want to sleep in since they had been traveling and attending Xango meetings for several days but they were up and we took them to our favorite place to walk.  It is a very quiet street and has such beautiful trees.
 It was Kent's birthday in November so I baked him a Coconut Cream Pie for his birthday.  He was happy we remembered.  We were happy to share his birthday with him.
 We took Kent and Melanie to visit one of our favorite young men.  Musa Sakala, who is working on getting ready to serve a mission.  He has been a member for one year now and is such a strength to the branch and to us.  He knows his scriptures better than we do and his growth is amazing.  He will make a wonderful missionary but right now is serving as the branch Young Men's President and a Branch Missionary.  L-R: Melanie, Sister Bingham, Musa, Elder Bingham 2014.

 Musa in his home in Lilanda.
L-R:  Sister Bingham, Musa, Kent, Elder Bingham

 Whenever we visit Musa and his mother, Rebecca, lots of little children just flock around us.  They did the same when Kent and Melanie visited.  They love their pictures taken.

 We were sad that Musa's mother was gone to the market when we visited and we really wanted her to meet Kent and Melanie.  We stopped nearby to visit the church and Rebecca and her friend, Alice, came walking by.  We were so happy to see them.  Rebecca had a load of greens on her head.  They don't look heavy but she took them down while we visited, then I helped her put them back up on her head to go home and they were really quite heavy.  The women here don't think anything of carrying whatever they need to on their heads.
L-R: Elder Bingham, Melanie, Rebecca, Sister Bingham, Alice

 One day we were out seeing the city and stopped at one of the malls for lunch.  The weather here is always so mild that many of the places are "open air" and we enjoy that.
 We took Kent and Melanie out to the orphanage "Mothers Without Borders".  Our friends work and teach there and it is a very special place.
 Melanie with some of the little girls at the orphanage.  The orphanage is very orderly and clean and the children get an education and are taken care of there until they are 18 years old if needed.  On Sundays all of the children who want to go to church get in a one ton truck and all from the orphanage make the fifteen mile drive into town for church.  Just can't help but love the children here in Africa!

While at the orphanage, we met Sharon, who lives there and takes care of the smallest children.  We "hit" it off right away when we each found out the other's name was Sharon. 

Melanie took some pictures of the children and they just gathered around her so excited to see their pictures.  They love their pictures taken.

Kent and Melanie surrounded by the children at Mother's Without Borders.

The George Mshippi Family.  George and his wife, Faith, are in our branch in Lilanda and they teach and work at the school.  Elder and Sister Bingham are in the back.  We love this family and they are a strength to our branch.

 Davies Makondia is another one of our returned missionary friends.  He sells artwork and came to bring some thing that I had ordered.  I bought some nativity sets and Melanie also bought one.  He gave her a Zambia scarf for Kent as a remembrance of coming to Zambia.  L-R:  Melanie, Davies, Sister Bingham.
 Elder and Sister Bingham and Melanie in front of our apartment complex in Lusaka

 We had to show Melanie the bananas that were picked from the banana trees at the mission office.  They are very, very heavy.
 Sister Bingham, Melanie, and Kent in front of the Zambia Lusak Mission Office, and yes, there is a swimming pool in front of the mission home.  It is a very nice place and we love to visit there.

Sister Teki manages the Distribution Store for Zambia and Malawi.  She is an amazing woman and does a great job with a very small space to work with.  Her granddaughter, Hannah, is currently serving a mission in the Salt Lake Mission and has been so worried about her.  We brought Kent and Melanie to meet Sister Teki and to reassure her that Hannah will be just fine in Utah.  Sister Teki is a good friend of ours and we love her very much.  She has raised her two granddaughters from just tiny little girls after their mother died and Hannah is a missionary and Grace is engaged to be married to a fine returned missionary, Ben Chikopa, who is also the district clerk.
Melanie really wanted to see some African wildlife so he drove out to the Chimanuka Game Preserve not far out of Lusaka.  They were here such a short time we didn't have time to travel to the big game preserves but this one was fun and we enjoyed the day.  The weather had been so very, very hot and we had warned Kent and Melanie, but the day they came in it rained and the weather cooled down so nicely.  On the game drive, we even had to wear out jackets.  Was quite refreshing from the hot weather we have been having. 
L-R: Melanie, Kent, Stan, Sharon

  Cape Buffalo.  We had briefly seen some at the South Liwonde Game Park but couldn't get good pictures of them.  There were quite a few of them here and they didn't mind us taking their picture.  Each game park has something just a little different than the last so we can't just go to one game park and expect to see it all.
 We love the zebras.  They are such a pretty animal and no two are alike.

Nothing pretty about the hyena but they do have a purpose in the scheme of life and keeping a balance in the wild.

 There were two cheetahs but they were kept in a wire cage for their protections.  They are quite majestic animals also.
 We enjoyed this big lizard.
 There were many ostrich in the Chamunuka park. 
 This is the first place we have seen wildebeests and it was fun to watch them.  Of course, we couldn't get very close but we enjoyed them and even got to see the little baby above.

 The giraffes are just majestic.  We love to see those graceful animals.

 Kent and Melanie in their Safari Vehicle
 Stanley and Sharon
 After our drive, we went back to the restaurant at the Game Preserve and had lunch.  We had been told it was very good and our friends were right.  The serving table looked like a work of art and the meal was delicious. 
Kent and Melanie on the well manicured grounds surrounding the Hotel and Restaurant at the Chamunuka Game Preserve.

Kent, Melanie, and Stanley decided to walk a ways out of the game preserve so I drove the pickup to meet them.  We had a lovely day.  It had rained very hard the night before and they air had cooled down very nicely and everything was green and nice.

 All too soon our visit came to an end.  We just wanted it to last much longer but it was time for Melanie to return to her little girls and for Kent to continue his European tour.  We crowded so much into just two and a half days but we were so happy they took the time and expense to come and visit us and to see a little of the Africa we work with every day.
 Goodbyes are always difficult but this one was even more so.  What a joy it was to have them be here with us.  As Kent and Melanie were returning, they found that Shaelie (serving in the UK) got a new companion and she is from Uganda.  By being here in Lusaka, they perhaps will understand a little more about Africa and support Shaelie in her training of a new sister missionary.  We love the people here and they are also God's children and he loves them as we do.