Saturday, January 24, 2015

Construction Updates!

Here is a picture update of some projects around New Day!

The fish pond is complete! By the end of next week, it should be full of tilapia!

Looks good! The middle dirt area will be the dock for fishing!

The Palace!! This is our staff house - it is built like a quadplex with an 2 bed/1 bath apartment for Elizabeth, Abby, Mulenga/Miriam, and Hildah! It is located behind and between the Tidwell/Wilcox houses, and because it's right on the edge of the property, they said they would feel better with a fence around it.

The entrance to Abby's house

Abby's sitting room/kitchenette. The staff opted to spend their bonus money on rugs, tvs, refrigerators, and stoves. They are still saving up for furniture!

Abby's guest room - she can't wait for her father to come and visit!

Abby's master room

Abby's bathroom

Miriam and Little Laurie watching election results in Elizabeth's house

Meanwhile, Mulenga's old house is almost done with the conversion process to turn it into an orphan house. We have built 2 more bathrooms, repainted, and now just need a good cleaning and bunkbed construction! The girls' old house is in the conversion process with an additional bathroom being built. week we will break ground on a new 4 room classroom block for the New Day school as we prepare to take in 14 more kids this year!

Friday, January 23, 2015

A fun week!

School was out on Tuesday due to presidential elections (still waiting for official results - a VERY close race!!), so the kids got to play in the fish pond as it was filling up! Can't wait to have our own tilapia!!

The tooth fairy is going broke over here..

BeND Ministries (Beyond New Day) got to help send 8th grade Cynthia Kagele to school! Her father died and she lives with her mother, working in the fields. However, she scored high enough on her 7th grade exams to gain entrance into Macha Girls School - a great girls' boarding school in our area! We put the word out, a sponsor volunteered to pay for a year of school, and we headed to the store to buy her everything she would need! Blu & Pastor Maxwell drove her to school today - she was so excited/nervous/grateful!!

A great reminder!

Johnny Boy has requested pics of our new staff house (The Palace), so I will try to head out there this weekend and get some pics, as I'm sure many of you want to see their finished houses!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Because sometimes you just need a good story to start your day.....

Hello Cambree,

Your momma told me you needed a story from me for an assignment that is due on Friday. I want to tell you about how I became a Christian! I did not grow up in a family that attended church or believed in God. But, my parents did not mind my walking to a church a little ways from my house when I was 10 years old. When I attended this church called Elmwood Baptist Church, I met a friend named Debbie King. Debbie came to church with her parents and they were very nice to me. After Sunday School Debbie and her parents asked me to sit with them in church. I was so excited to be able to sit with her and her family because I really didn’t know anyone else and felt a little nervous. I sat with them every Sunday that I came to church and sometimes, if the weather was really bad they would drive me back home so I didn’t have to walk. Debbie and I had so much fun sitting together in church! Sometimes we even got in trouble because we were talking too much or too loudly. I remember we played lots of Tic-Tac-Toe and Dot-to-Dot! I soon became very comfortable in Sunday School and church and could sing the songs and listened to the preacher. Every single Sunday the preacher, Rev. Morgan Thompson, closed his message with Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come to him and eat with him, and he with me” and then we would sing Just As I Am, every Sunday. One Sunday during this song, and suddenly understanding that Jesus was knocking on my heart’s door, I stepped out of the pew and into the aisle and walked up to the preacher and told him I wanted to open my door and let Jesus in! I had not planned to do it, but knew that Jesus was speaking to me right then and I had to let Jesus in!!!! I was very emotional and overwhelmed by how I felt as that 10 year old girl, but I knew from that moment on that Jesus was in my heart and my Savior. Everyone in the church came up to me and hugged me and told me how special my decision was. I thank GOD for calling me to be his child as a 10 year girl and I thank GOD that my parents allowed me to go to church even though they did not. I thank GOD for Debbie King and her parents. And I thank GOD that both of my daughters and most of my grandchildren have opened their hearts to Jesus, too! I love GOD and I love you, Cambree, I am so thankful you have Jesus in your heart!

Love you,

Mama Dee

BeND Ministries

New Day is kicking off a new ministry this year called BeND Ministries - Beyond New Day. We are seeking ways to reach out to the schools and villages around us in order to help the most vulnerable and share Christ's love. We are bringing the first two needs from BeND to you this week. One, an 8th grader named Cynthia, was posted on New Day's facebook page. I decided to post the other here on my blog. You may remember seeing pictures of 22 year old Prisca, who was born with a severely bent spine. Prisca has never been to the doctor - her mother simply told her that she bent over too much as a child, causing her back to bend. New Day sponsored Prisca at school for awhile, but because of her age and academic struggles, we began seeking another way to help her. Prisca has been accepted to Chodoort Training Center in Choma, where she will take a 2 year course in tailoring. When she is finished, she will be a fine seamstress with the knowledge and skills to open her own business and provide for herself. The cost for Prisca to attend Chodoort is $380 per year, or $32 per month. If you are interested in sponsoring Prisca, please email me at

UPDATE: Within a few minutes of posting this, I was contacted by someone offering to sponsor Prisca. Thank you! We will continue to bring you BeND opportunities/needs as they come our way!


The final book in the Boy Named Boy series is out! Get your copy heretoday! Ripples is available on your kindle or as a paperback. Thanks everyone for your support!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

First Day of School 2015!

Another First Day of school is here! The Zambian school year runs January - December, so our kids started a brand new year today! Caedmon is in 5th grade, Cambree is in 4th, and Cason is in 1st! Here is a look at some first days gone by!

First day of Kids Day Out in Brownwood - 2009

First day of homeschool in Zambia - 2010!

First day January 2012

First day January 2013

First day August 2013 in the USA

First day January 2014

First day January 2015!

Mama is ready to go too!

Prince & Lulu started Preschool with Aunt Niki!

They have so much fun collecting and counting eggs, learning letters, and playing lots of games/singing silly songs!

Mama Lala's class...4 days after she got back from the USA...impressive!

I am excited about this school year! Here is what my typical day will look like:

5am - walk around New Day, 5:30am - personal quiet time, 6am - get ready for school, 6:30am - breakfast for family, 7:30am - everyone out the door!

Teach morning classes - 5th grade Math, 4th grade Math, 4th grade Language Arts

Lunch break and New Day blogging/administrative/finance responsibilities until 2:45pm

Reading class until 3:30pm, followed by workout, cook supper, and family time!

It should be a great year!

Pre-School Activities!

The week before school started was a good one! As I blogged, we went to Lusaka for our anniversary and to pick up the Wilcoxes. Out of their 8 checked bags, 3 didn't make it, so we were "forced" to spend another night in the big city! What does one do an extra day in the city, you ask?

Check out the new Pizza Hut of course!

And go to Mugg n' Bean..again.. (My husband LOVES hot tea! He ordered a "trash burger" with hot manly! ;)

And play cards..while Wes & Laurie are in jet lag...good times..

After multiple trips to the airport, we decided that nobody REALLY knew where their bags were, so we opted to head home! (Wouldn't you know...their bags arrived on the next flight after we left...with Korean Air tags on them.....??) It was great to get back to New Day and watch Papa Wes and Mama Lala reunite with the kids!

Now that we have so many people cooking for themselves at the orphanage (Tidwells, Cooks, Wilcoxes, Carolyn, Debbie, Hildah, Liz, Abby, Mulenga/Miriam), we had to change the way we do our grocery trips. Every Saturday, the New Day bus heads for Choma for a 5 hour trip where whoever wants to go can get their groceries! It was our turn to drive this past week, and we had a great time!

Carolyn & Deb hanging out at the museum

Blu is Superdad because he brought a baseball bat and ball!

Just relaxing waiting for everyone to finish shopping! We got back just in time to serve 128 kids at Kids Club!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Look who's here!

Wes & Laurie are back!! After flights from Springfield to Dallas to London to Johannesburg to Lusaka, they will make the final 4 hour drive with us tomorrow and be back at New Day! They did a phenomenal job speaking at churches, fundraising for New Day, and hopefully enjoying a little refreshment and time with their families! It is great to have them back!

Headed to supper at Spur!

That means...we're next!! 2015 will be a fast and furious year for us with 2 school terms, volunteer season, our kids flying back to the USA 5 weeks before us, our own furlough, and three (Yep, three!) vacations! I am looking forward to a great year of serving Jesus, growing closer to Him and teaching others about Him, and seeing our families in the USA! :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

14 years!!!

And speaking of weddings....14 years ago today, we had a beautiful, traditional wedding of our own at First Baptist Church in Bartlett! I absolutely loved every single thing about our wedding. Growing up, I watched my dad do countless weddings in that church, and my sister and I would go and sit on our porch swing and talk about what our weddings would be like. I wanted mine to be exactly like all of those I had seen in that church, and it was! :)
It was a sunny, gorgeous, January day!

We had just turned 19 and 20 - it didn't seem so young then!

And better than the wedding itself...the last 14 years with this man :) (This was on our way out the door this morning! We are in Lusaka picking up the Wilcoxes tomorrow! Awesome how they planned their flight back around our anniversary! Thanks ya'll! :) My daddy bought me this shirt for Christmas :)

Cambree insisted on a kissing picture - the kids are a little obsessed with kissing after Uncle Mulenga's wedding!

So what do we do in Lusaka for our anniversary?? We eat, of course!! When you have to cook ALL of your meals from scratch, a trip to the big city = restaurants!!

Gingerbread latte and a cappuccino to start!

A yummy smoked chicken and wild rice salad at Sandy's for lunch!

Chicken espetada at Rhapsody's for supper!

Lemon meringue pie and a strawberry banana smoothie for dessert!

We opted out of a movie - it's past our bedtime! I can't wait for the next 14 years with Joshua Blu Tidwell!! :)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Mulenga's Wedding!

Well, here they are - the pictures you have all been waiting for!!! I went to bed at 7:30pm last night and didn't tackle the monumental task of uploading and captioning all of these, but I got up early to do it before church, so here is your glimpse at our day!

Waiting....we got there at 9:58am (it started at 10am). Any guesses on when the ceremony actually started??? 12:30!!

We were prepared...a card game for the kids!

Around 11am, we decided to go and get the New Day kids.. :) They were so excited and kept asking, "When will it start? When will he kiss her??

I took this picture mainly for Allison, who would have loved holding this sweet Baby Grace! She is Mulenga's niece, being held by Mulenga's mom.

Teacher Hildah and Mama Joyce dressed to the nines! (what does that even mean??)

Finally! The groomsmen arrive!

OK, I have to admit..when Mulenga came walking up the aisle to take his seat at the front, I got completely choked up! He has been such a part of our family for the past 12 years, and we love him dearly. He has made his share of mistakes but this man has a heart to do what is right, to follow God, and to be an honorable man. Miriam is so blessed to have him!

Here comes our girls - Kelitah was beautiful!

My sweet Cambree - she did great!

Gertrude was the flower girl - she was a little nervous!!

Here comes the bride - escorted by her uncle! Let me stop here and explain that in Zambian culture, the bride does NOT smile or look happy at her wedding. If she did, she would be expressing to her family that she was excited to leave them, so she is expected to not make eye contact and look forlorn!

Abby, the "matron", carried her train down the aisle

A glimpse of the ceremony - it was beautiful!

Ok, at this point they were pronounced husband and wife, and Mulenga raised her veil to kiss her. I was so flustered by the HUGE kiss he gave her that I took a picture of my lap!!! I was so shocked! Blu was going to leave that part out, wondering if it was cultural, but Mulenga insisted it be in the ceremony! (He's seen too many movies.. ;)

They stood up at the front for awhile, while the guests danced their way to the front and gave them hugs. Here is Mulenga's mom wiping away tears

Time to walk out!

There she goes!

The bridal party then went to the Wilcoxes beautiful yard for pictures! So sweet!

Cambree wanted a picture with Uncle Mulenga

Miriam and her girls

Look - Miriam is almost smiling!!

The preacher and the "line dancer"

The bridal party

I'm a little biased, but she's pretty gorgeous ;)

The girls

The goofy groomsmen - all workers at New Day: William, Ian, Patrick, & Barry

They wanted SO many pictures taken! (Oh - do you see Mama Liz??)

Miriam is actually the cousin of Kelitah & Axer!

Hildah & Mulenga have been friends for about 20 years! She had a great time at the wedding!

I love this picture!! You can see how happy Mulenga is!

So happy for them!!

The women

Ok, at this point it was 1:30pm and the reception was supposed to start at 2pm...HOWEVER...nothing had been decorated, and all the people were just sitting there waiting for something to happen. So for the next almost 3 hours, they decorated while everyone just sat, and complained about being hungry, and sat some more.. it was...bizarre? :)

(I gotta speed things up here...gonna be late for church!!) Here is what happened at the reception in a nutshell: The bridal party danced in and out, Mulenga & Miriam danced in and sat, the bridal party danced in (again) and sat, the little girls danced in and sat. Then they did introductions of the bridal party, (there was an emcee and music the whole time), a girl came and did a "knife dance," finally dancing the knife up to Miriam, they cut the cakes, they ate the cake, they danced some more, they did gift presentations, where you walked up to the front, gave your gift, and told everyone what it was, they served rice & chicken, and everyone went home!

I left right after Cambree danced in (I missed the cakes!) so that I could go and do Kids Club. We fed 193 kids - it was insane!! I just didn't feel like I could cancel Kids Club and NOT feed a bunch of hungry kids and tell them about Jesus, while we were having a party, celebrating, and eating cake!

Mulenga dancing with his mom

Mama Liz dancing!

Kalenga crying as Mulenga dances in

Mama Joyce dancing - the kids loved this!

Cambree dancing in :)

The cakes! It was very humid, but they turned out great! Kelsey & Niki baked them, and I decorated. Carolyn made an additional 3 sheet cakes, and ALL of it was eaten!!

The bride and groom dancing in

More dancing...

Mulenga's mom and Lois (yes, my Lois!) dancing. Lois was the "mother" representative for Miriam - she is her aunt.

And that's a wrap - they're hitched and living in The Palace (what the staff has named their new housing area!) I wonder who will be the next wedding at New Day!!??