Thursday, June 9, 2016

Be Anxious about…

2:33 am.  I’ve seen this time too often these past few weeks.  Weeks of transition, travel, see ya laters, catching up, late night chats, goodbyes.  Each of us have our own things to be anxious about and it manifests itself in various ways.  Shyness, whining, fear, tears, sleeplessness, nail biting, short tempers, tears.  

Paul says be anxious about nothing.  

But God what about the money we need?  What about learning Bemba?  What about the lists I need to make of all the stuff to do and buy when we first get there?  Do we have what it takes to do this?  What about Olivia and Simeon getting used to new people, friends, neighbors, school?  What about boarding school and my little girl sleeping there instead of in our house?  What will I say when Simeon says he can’t sleep until Olivia is with him?  What will I say when people ask me hard questions or to provide for them something I don’t have?  What will we do when we miss home and nothing about Zambia makes sense to our American selves?  

Be anxious about nothing.

But I want to be anxious about this.  If I’m not then how will it ever get done?  Who will do it and take care of the details if I don’t obsess and lose sleep over them.  Being anxious in my restless bed is productive right?

Be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  (Phil. 4:6)

God we can’t do this on our own.  I know that.  Everyone knows that.  I guess I’m awake at 2:33am to present my requests to You, laying them at your feet in thankfulness that You go before us.  Your Father’s heart fully understands my heart and the hearts of my family.  Jesus you left home too and humbled yourself to being a baby, toddler, child, adolescent, adult, to the point of death, to bring us into relationship with you.  You know all that we are experiencing and all of what lies ahead.  

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  (4:7)

The peace of God will guard my mind.  The peace of God will guard me in Christ Jesus.  That’s enough to let me fall asleep.


Friday, April 29, 2016

The Brown House

Three years ago, after returning home from Zambia, we moved into "the white house."  It was an old farmhouse, one that showed its age in creaky steps and a bathroom that was added on after plumbing came to town.  But it served us well, and we were thankful for a space of our own.  Soon after we moved in, the house next door became vacant.  The owners, it turned out, were bailing on both a failed business and their mortgage.  We admired that "brown house" every day--its large fenced-in yard, mature trees, bay window, closer proximity to Mary's granny--basically everything we could see from the outside.  As renters, we dreamed of owning a house, but not just any house--the brown house.

Then one day Mary saw a real estate agent putting up a sign at the brown house.  It was being sold in a short sale, which might save us a few bucks if we were willing to be patient.  Amazingly, it never went on the market--Mary's contact with the agent positioned us as the presumptive buyers, and after a 6-month process of chasing down lenders and divulging my deepest, darkest secrets to our bank, we were the new owners of the brown house.

Today, 18 months later, we are saying bye-for-now to the brown house.  God brought just the right tenant and just the right time, and we are moving in with Mary's parents for our last month in Virginia.  Our attempt at a proper farewell is a video we made of the kids walking around the house, recalling their favorite memories from each room (screenshots below).  In a relatively short time, this house has endeared itself to us in a big way.  Its yard has given Olivia and Simeon countless hours of play time; its kitchen and lounge has given us the opportunity to host three semesters of small groups; its half-finished basement has allowed us to host over a dozen guests; and the doggy door allowed for a happy existence for Riley and Peppermint (and no litter box cleaning for us!).  See you later, brown house.  -dan

Monday, March 28, 2016

Never say never

Deep breath...

It's been a long time, blog world.  Not sure I even remember how to do this.  But here goes...

Three years ago, we stepped onto a plane in Zambia, and I told myself I would be perfectly happy to never come back to this country again.  The country itself was fine, beautiful in fact; nothing wrong with the people either.  What made for a (sometimes) unpleasant 10 months in Zambia was the unfortunate mismatch between the vision of an American ostensibly in charge of an organization...and the vision of the rest of that organization.  Don't get me wrong, we experienced lots of great things there, and we had many opportunities to teach, build, serve and love.  But, for the reason above, among others, returning to Zambia was definitely not on my mind.

I have a feeling that when God hears us say "never," He smiles slyly and says back, "we'll see about that."  

The truth is, we have never once doubted that missions is in our blood.  We have always had our ears to the ground, listening for ways God might be preparing us for another mission field.  We've had several people ask us about joining their teams, but it never quite seemed right.  Towards the end of last year, we started to sense that one particular opportunity was more that just a nice idea.  Our friends Ben & Cat, whom we first met in Zimbabwe, have pioneered Foundations for Farming in central Zambia (about 3 hours from where we previously lived).  We exchanged messages, we Skyped, we talked with many counselors, and it became clear that this ministry opportunity brilliantly overlapped with our passion and giftings--a lot like our ministry in Zimbabwe.  

On Thanksgiving Day I boarded a plane (with Olivia, actually; great story there) for a quick visit to check out exactly what our friends were inviting us to join, praying for ears and eyes to perceive God's desires for us there.  In that short week, I saw some really encouraging things--a ministry focused on people and God's Kingdom, an internship program set up for life transformation, contextualized farming demos and training, not to mention a fantastic school where our kids would attend.  I didn't come back home absolutely convinced though, which was more due to lingering fears than anything else.  We spent another few weeks praying and seeking, and God faithfully led us to this conclusion: the Foundations for Farming outpost in Zambia is exactly what God has been preparing us for.  So, we said yes to them and plan to move there this summer! 

That was the long version, unless you ever get me in person, in which case I can make it much longer ;-)  So, here we are.  On the journey once again, this time with one more kid and a little more humility (I hope).  

Saturday, April 9, 2011


we just got back for a three day retreat just outside of town. when we planned this time away, i had a pretty long "to do" list for dan and me to get done. just before we left a friend of ours challenged us a story of how he had once gone away seeking answers and came away unsatisfied. he said if he had only gone to seek God and let the answers come as God had planned it would have been a great experience. i didn't really like letting go of my "to do" list but in the end it was wonderful. we ended up mostly just resting and spending time together as a family. we enjoyed one another- especially our funny little girl. we took walks, drank tea, sang songs that reminded us of our friends, prayed, went swimming, and read. it was lovely. it was relaxing and energizing. it was just what we needed.


Friday, April 1, 2011

a whole month

i must apologize to my few readers that it has been over a month since i have posted. while i could like to say that life was just normal, the month did include some "exciting" things.

-our computer stopped reading it's wifi card and spent a week in the shop.
-we took olivia to the clinic at 11pm with a mysterious very high fever. it ended up being roseola and took care of itself.
-olivia has started eating solid foods and loves everything. she even made it through the hot sauce that dan accidentally fed her when he gave her some of her food.
-the peri-urban outreach started it's second year.
-our house mate, claire, got her work-permit extension. we are very happy about this because we like having her around!
-i am co-leading a bible study with a lovely group of ladies on Esther.

i think that is a good summary. otherwise our lives keep going.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011


last week dan and i went on a date and found ourselves in a new mall in town. as we walked through i noticed that we were turning heads and this conversation followed:
me: everyone is looking at us.
d: yep.
me: not many white people come here do they?
d: i saw one but i think he was just walking through.

sometimes i forget we are different- then i go to town and remember.


Monday, February 7, 2011

"can you pray for my son's school placement?"

one of the most confusing things for me to attempt to wrap my mind around is the school system. because i didn't go through this system or have a child going through it, understanding of it seems to elude me. this is what i know:
-creche (preschool) is now required for a child to be able to enter into grade 1.
-the levels are grade 1-7 and then form 1-6. grades correspond with the grades in america. forms seem to track with high school but not exactly.
-there are exams all the time. exams are a big deal here because that is what the schools use to pass or fail a student. exams are also used for school placement.
-there are also "O" levels (ordinary) or "A" levels (Advanced) which effect your ability to get into "varsity" (University) or a job. it is common to see job advertisments that say something like, "you must have passed 5 O levels, including english and computers".
-the schools function in 3 month terms with a month holiday at april, august, and december.
-every school has a uniform and a "sport" uniform. the everyday uniform includes: a hat, a shirt, a tie, trousers (for winter), a skirt for girls, shorts for boys, a sweater, socks, and shoes. some also have blazers and bakcpacks that include the school crest.
-there is a fee for every school- rural to city, private to government. some schools also have "top-ups" for the teachers because teachers have a low salary. at boarding schools there is also a donation of groceries.
-no lunch is served at school. the typical day starts between 7:30 and 8am and ends by 12:30 to 1pm. (lunch here is from 1-2pm)
-all school is in english.

i have no idea how one goes about choosing a school but i do know that it is a very important and difficult event in a parent's life. yesterday in bible study my friend, a mother of a 4 year old, asked us to pray for her son's school placement next year! they have already gotten letters stating there is no room for him at that school. immediately after that the lady next to me leaned over and said: "have you put olivia's name on a list for creche yet?" i said, "no, she is 6 months old!" to which she responded, "yes, so you had better do it soon." i just sat there astonished by the thought.

school fees are an issue all in themselves. people are always in need of school fees for their children. i have no idea how much school fees are in town but in the rural areas they are $30 a term, $90 a year (not including books, pens/pencils, paper, and the uniform). at the beginning of each term it never fails to see school children not in school. when you ask why the answer is: we didn't pay school fees yet. my american brain has a hard time understanding such things. it is illegal to not send your children to school in america. here the school sends your child home until you can pay.

our gardener works at our house in the afternoon and works in the morning at a creche in town. he was telling me that the creche is in english so he cannot speak shona to the children at all. this creche has set itself apart by offering lessons in english, gymnastics, swimming, drama and speech. so because everyone wants their child to get ahead they are willing to send them to a school that offers the best programs. but these top schools also come with top prices. this particular creche costs $1300 a term!

so there you have it friends. just one of the many things i have yet to understand.