Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Goin' to Africa...

It's taken me a week to write this blog. Or I guess I should say it's taken me a week to be able to find this story funny so that I could write a blog. :)

Caedmon and Cambree have been doing really well with Baby Cason lately. Last Wednesday, Cason was on the living room floor and the kids were laying beside him as they watched tv. I was in Caedmon's closet hanging up clothes. All of a sudden, I hear this screaming, but it sounded distant so I thought it was from the tv. Suddenly it clicked in my mind that it was Baby Cason, but his screaming was from a long ways off. I sprinted through the house and found him outside, on the back porch, laying face down on the concrete beside the bbq grill, screaming his head off!! I spanked the older 2 kids and put them in their rooms so I could calm down and get Cason calm. Then, when the kids came out of their rooms, I asked Caedmon for an explanation of how Baby Cason got outside. Here was his response:

"Well Mama I said who wants to go to Africa and Baby Cason said I do and Africa is in the backyard so I had to take him to Africa and then Cambree put him up on the bench and then he rolled off."

Um, where to even start? With the fact that Africa is not in the backyard??? I calmly explained that Baby Cason is too little to play in Africa and he needed to stay inside (in the USA??). In the end, Cason ended up with a small bump on his head, but otherwise, he survived his trip to Africa.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Never too young??

You know, I've always heard that a child is never too young to learn about Jesus. Hmm.....

You have to picture my daughter, Cambree. She has HUGE blue eyes and a complete poker face. She gets her "wide-eyed, serious as a heart attack" face on when she is thinking about something serious. Then, she will get right in your face to tell you what she wants to say.

When I tucked her in last night, I told her, "Cambree, you go to sleep. Do you remember what's going to happen to you if you get out of bed?" (answer: spanking)

Her eyes got so big as she looked up at me seriously and whispered, "I'm gonna die on a cross."

Friday, April 17, 2009

We love Grandma!!

This is my very special Grandma with my 3 kiddos. My favorite memory of Grandma is playing putt-putt with her. She ALWAYS won and I would get so frustrated that she wouldn't let me win! She also took us bowling, always had a chocolate jar at her house, played card games with us, colored with us, had Disney movies at her house and special blankets for us to use on the floor, and had the best climbing trees EVER. This past weekend was strange, because we went to see her, and we (me, Blu, and Grandma) sat in the rocking chairs on the porch while the kids ran around the backyard. It was so surreal, because I can remember running around the backyard with my cousins while all the "old" people sat in the rocking chairs on the porch!! Yes, I have become one of the "old" people now!! It's incredible to me that my kids will have memories of Grandma just like I do. Did I mention that Grandma had seven kids? What about 18 grandchildren? How about 29 great-grandchildren? (#30 is due this summer). But I'm definitely her favorite. :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Zambia Conclusion

Ok, sorry it took me so long to conclude, but Easter weekend kept us busy and on the road.

It was weird being in Zambia. Being there, it was like we had never left. Being back in the USA, it's like we were never there. They are two different worlds.

We could never have just randomly taken a trip to Zambia. Cloud paid for our airfare and my parents paid for travel expenses along the way. Both sets of grandparents kept our kids for 2 weeks, giving up their entire Spring Break to chase them around. Wes and Laurie and my sister and her family cooked for us, drove us around, and gave of their time on short notice to accommodate us and our needs. We could never have gone without all of this help.

So, in conclusion, I'll share the song lyrics of one of my new favorite songs by Matthew West, called "The Motions."

This might hurt
It’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care
If I break
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just ok
Is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
Instead of going through the motions

No regrets
Not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love
Make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something

Take me all the way
Take me all the way
Take me all the way

We belong in Zambia.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Zambia Days 6-9, REUNION!

So at 5am Blake picked us up from the bus "station" and drove us to their home. It was dark, so we couldn't see the village or anything, but we pull into the gate and I see my sweet sister on the porch! Then, one by one, her kids come out. When we last saw them they were ages 4, 2 1/2, and 6 months. Now they were 6, almost 5, and almost 3 (and Baby Amos was 8 months!) The kids each ran up to us and gave us a hug like they had known us forever. Even sweet little Isaac ran up to Uncle Blu and gave him a huge hug. It just goes to show you that if the parents work at it, kids will remember who they leave behind in the States and their extended families will remain a huge part of their lives. As my parents describe it, "It's a different kind of grandparenting, but it's still grandparenting."

We spent Monday-Wednedsay with Blake and Dawni in Isoka. I followed Dawni around with a notepad and pen asking her, "Where did you get this? Should I bring this? What do you think about this?" It was amazing to watch her--make homemade tortillas, homeschool her children, wash cloth diapers, cook supper, and making it all look SO EASY!! We had a great time together - playing the guitar with Uncle Blu, meeting some of their friends, and playing card games at night. It's hard to describe so I'll just overwhelm you with pictures. :)
Here is Dawni rolling out her homemade tortillas! I told her when she gets back to the States she won't be able to eat the store-bought ones because hers are SO good!

You've seen this one, but I"ll post it again. Something funny is that when I saw this pic, I said "wow I look tired!" Then I realized I had forgotten to put makeup on! When we lived in Zambia before, I never wore makeup because nobody cares if you do or not!

One morning we walked into their little town and shopped some at the market. I got some name-brand pants for $3! We also stopped by the post office!

We were there for the weekly Kimbrough Pizza and Movie night so we got to experience Dawni's homemade pizza!

The kids with Uncle Blu

Isabel is SUCH a good big sister and she was great with her cousin Cason too!

This is their homeschool room where the girls were doing homeschool one morning that I was there.

This is the most awesome game in the world, called FingerFighting! I won :)

The kids loved to dance around the living room while Blu played Laurie Berkner songs!

Aren't they precious??

Aww....they will celebrate their 10 year anniversary this year!

The two baby cousins!

Amos is so cute and loves to flirt!

Kimbrough Kids

We left at 4am on Thursday morning to drive the 12 hours back to the capitol city. This time, we could see the road, and it was AWFUL. There were some potholes so big that a person could literally lay down in them! It was a bumpy ride, but we had music and we read books, and the kids were AMAZINGLY good on such a long trip. There was so much planning involved. There is no place to stop and eat, so both a snack and lunches had to be packed. Blake and Dawni have their normal "potty stops" out in the bush where they stop and disappear to use the bathroom! It's funny that this is the norm for their kids! We enjoyed some Indian food that night in Lusaka and some more card games and then called it a night since we had to leave at 6:30am for the airport. We had promised each other we wouldn't cry, and I was doing fine the next morning until sweet little Abigail's eye filled with tears and she said, "But if Uncle Blu and Aunt Darbi leave....we won't have any friends to play with!!"

Tomorrow I'll write a "conclusion post" on our Zambian trip.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Zambia, Day Five - THE BUS TRIP

We slept late on Day 5 in Zambia and went to the "tourist" market later in the morning. Every Sunday in the capitol city, all the vendors get together at a big strip mall and set all of their things in the parking lot. I had a great time looking around and getting some souvenirs for my friends! We enjoyed some Zambian pizza for lunch. I'm not a big pizza fan in the States, but I LOVE the pizza in Zambia! It's less greasy and yummy in my opinion! (My sister, a huge Papa John's fan, thinks I'm crazy!) Anyway, we got peri-peri chicken flavor and it was delicious!!

At 3, it was time to head to the bus station. We were riding a bus about 12 hours north to visit my sister in Northern Zambia. Gas is really expensive in Zambia so we figured we could save them some money by just hopping on a bus. We didn't realize, however, that the bus traveled ALL NIGHT long. We were supposed to leave at 4pm and arrive at 4am. This REALLY worried us, because we never traveled at night in Zambia. There are people on the roads, potholes, trucks broken down, and it's just not safe. So we were gonna get on a bus and travel all night!! (The reason they do this is so that they can arrive at the Tanzania border at 6am when it opens.)

We got to the bus station, got all of our luggage together along with Baby Cason in his car seat, and headed to find our bus. We were quickly surrounded by Zambians trying to help us for a tip. People were swarming me and Blu was yelling "get back from the lady! Give the lady and baby some room!" It was a VERY stressful situation (and it was raining!) We finally found our bus and they gave us a seat in the next to last row. People kept coming onto the bus to sell their products, but we finally decided that more were coming than normal becasue they wanted to see the white people (and maybe the white woman nursing!) on the bus!! We finally pulled out around 5:30 with a FULL bus. It was pretty cramped, and we had decided to take Cason's car seat on the bus thinking there would be room to store it or something...nope. So we either put it under our feet with our knees up to our chins or we finally just put Cason in it and held it on our laps. It was so uncomfortable!

Once we got on the road, we noticed that our seats were broken! They both leaned into the aisle and the cushions slid off of them. One seat was a little better than the other so we made a deal that whoever was holding Cason got to sit in the semi-good seat! So we were sitting there trying to hold ourselves up straight in our seats!! We stopped a couple of times to get more passengers and we ate the sandwiches we had packed. Oh!! They were showing Nigerian movies while we drove, and the plots and acting were SOOOO hilarious!! So everyone on the bus was all into this movie (a murder drama) and Blu and I were just laughing! People were looking at us like "that wasn't a funny part!"

Basically, we felt safe on the bus even though we were uncomfortable. We felt the bus swerve a couple of times and when Blu looked forward he could see us passing on curves, so I made him stop looking. :) We dozed a little and around 2, we woke up and got ready, because we were told the bus would arrive between 3 and 4am and we were afraid we would miss where we were supposed to get off. 3 comes, 4 comes, 4:30 comes....we finally arrive in Isoka at 5am. The bus driver yelled "Isoka!" and we grab all of our stuff and rush to the front. People mumbled "muzungu" (white person) as we walked up the rows of the bus. I was SOOOO relieved to look out the window and see a tall, bald, white guy - my brother-in-law Blake!! He had been chasing buses since 3am trying to figure out which one we were on...yeah...we got on the wrong bus. Apparently, there is a nicer bus line that arrives sooner and would have been much more comfortable. Oh well...we might have missed the adventure then. :)

Stay tuned tomorrow for pics of my time in Isoka with my sister and her family, and more pics than you'll probably want to see :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Zambia, Day Four

Wow--just got finished watching Slumdog Millionaire..awesome movie!

Day Four in Zambia concluded our time out in the bush. I remember thinking that we, as Americans, are so comfortable. When in Zambia, especially out in the bush, you aren't comfortable. I had forgotten how it feels to feel dirty and sweaty all the time, with flies swarming you, power outages, no water, etc. I thought about the fact that when in America, I know nothing of discomfort. If I am hot, I turn the a/c down. If I'm cold, I turn it up. If I want water, I turn the faucet and it will be there. If there is one fly in my house, I search for a fly-swatter and kill it immediately.

We spent day four driving about 4 or 5 hours back into the capitol city of Lusaka. Laurie and I enjoyed reading Trivial Pursuit questions (girls versus guys) and creaming the guys with our vast knowledge! We had planned to stop in Mazabuka for lunch, and it was about 11:45 when we stopped. We went to one fast food place, but the "food was not ready yet--check back in one hour." I had forgotten about things like that! Luckily, we were able to find lunch meat at a grocery store so we made our own sandwiches.

Our first stop in Lusaka was at the bus station so that we could buy tickets for our bus trip the next day to go see my sister (more to come on that in tomorrow's blog!) When we got there, Blu got out of the vehicle and was swarmed with guys who wanted to help him get a ticket. This one grabbed Blu's hand (a sign of friendship in Zambia) and helped him out. Blu had no idea we were taking these pictures. :) When he saw them, he was grateful that at least I didn't get a picture of them when their fingers were interlocked!

When we got to Lusaka, we had one more visit to make with my close friend, Abigail. She has had a different life compared with most Zambians. Her father is the President of the Baptist Theological Seminary in Lusaka, so she was raised in a Christian home. Abigail is 31 now and is eagerly awaiting a husband! She likes to remind me that because she is so "pure" her future husband will have to pay her father a large sum of money for her bridal price!

We spent our last evening with Wes and Laurie playing cards after eating at our favorite restaurant in Lusaka - the Chinese restaurant!

Ok I have a story here...Laurie is going to kill me.. As we left the restaurant, a Zambian stopped her and asked her if she was Joyce Meier!!!! That was funny in itself, but then Laurie confessed that this wasn't the first time that someone had asked her that!!!! :) We teased her mercilessly after that!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Quick Break from Zambia

Yesterday was a WEIRD day...

I NEVER go to the bank. Blu usually runs our daily errands while I'm home with the kids, so everyone at the bank knows him, but not me. We live in a fairly small town, about 25 miles south of Fort Worth. Not a metropolis by any means. So, yesterday, I went to the bank. I stood in line waiting to get some cash and looked around. I suddenly got paranoid and started looking at the people around me. I thought to myself, "Man, if the bank were gonna get robbed, it would be my luck that it would be right now while I'm in it, because I NEVER come to the bank." That was at 11am. The bank was robbed at 1:07.

We went to a Mercy Me/Jeremy Camp/Addison Road/10th Avenue North concert last night at the American Airlines Center. We took 22 kids from our youth group and 4 sponsors. I got to drive one of the 15 passenger vans in Dallas traffic. One of the vans had just gotten out of the shop that day, so I told Blu he had to drive that van because it would probably break down. Yep, you guessed it. The van I drove broke down on our way home. Overheated, engine failure, battery died, smoke from the engine--it was bad. A tow truck came for the van and we took the kids home in shifts. It was a strange day!

Anyway, look what Blu did this week!!!!!!!! He can do anything and he is my HERO! :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Zambia, Day Three

By now, it had been about 3 days since I'd had a I woke up and showered with the spiders. Zambia has tons of "wall spiders." Big gross, VERY fast spiders on the walls that eat the mosquitoes. You aren't supposed to kill them, but I do whenever possible even though Wes gets mad at me! I HATE spiders!!

We had a long, busy day with many stops to make! Our first stop was Chitongo--this is where Blu and I used to live! We got to see our hut that we lived in. Did it make me nostalgic and want to go back to live in the hut? Um, no. :) Inside, however, Blu found remnants of the baby crib that he made for Caedmon out of sticks from the bush, so that was cool! We got to see a lot of our friends and it was so weird how no one had seemed to change at all. The village "madwoman" who walked around knitting socks who used to come visit me was still walking around the village!

We then went to Kabulamwanda to visit Joyce and her family. Joyce's husband and the pastor of the church there died suddenly a few months ago, so we really wanted to see her. It was another one of those treks through the tall grass and it was SOOO hot. I had forgotten how bright and hot the African sun is! We got to her village and found her mom there, two of her children, and one of the orphans she cares for. Everyone looked exactly the same!

We gave out some gifts and they told us that Joyce was in town, so we were off. (I was excited to enjoy some more a/c in the truck!) We found Joyce in town, and she DID look different! We have never seen her in pants, with her hair done, or in a shirt like that, and I think she was kinda embarrassed!

Sankwa is the boy in the picture - he is an orphan she has taken care of as well and he is SO sweet! He was on his way to a soccer game.

Now it was time to head to Nsanti. Nsanti has never been one of our favorite places to visit, because the women there never fail to point out how fat we are. Remember, in Africa it is a HUGE compliment to be fat! However, I could live there for 25 years and never get used to people telling me I'm fat. Do you know what you're expected to say when someone tells you you are getting fat? "Thank you!" The day I thank someone for telling me I'm fat will be the day I die!!

Anyway, we arrive at Nsanti and people start showing up and heading into the church, so we figure we are going to have a little service.

About 20 people arrived and we sang songs and shared a little with them.

It was amazing how fast our Tonga came back to us. Words we hadn't thought of in years we are suddenly speaking-it was neat. Anyway, after the service we head back to Pastor Robinson's hut (another long trek-I'm realizing at this point how out of shape I am!) where they had prepared us a "snack."

They bring these huge fruits out--they call them pumpkin but they taste like sweet potatoes, and they also bring homemade rolls (brick-like consistency). I'm sure I sound ungrateful and American but I'm just trying to give you a picture of what it's like. They first bring around a bowl of water for you to wash your hands in. Laurie laughed at me because I was last so by the time they get to me the water is dirty! Then, Pastor Robinson plops the HUGEST pumpkin thing on my plate! Wes is laughing too, but remember-I am the fat one so I should get the most! I take about 4 very small, very slow bites. Wes and Blu manage to eat it all, and Laurie even takes her roll with her so she can eat it later! Ahhh...what good missionaries they are.... :) While we were eating, we were swarmed with flies. It was an uncomfortable situation, but they were so happy to have us as visitors. When we finished, they called the children over and they got to eat our leftovers. It was sad.

So we leave Nsanti and head on to the big town of Namwala. Namwala is like the end of the world. There are quite a few things there, but the road just ends there. To leave Namwala you either turn around and go the way you came or you can put your car on a small ferry and cross the river. Basically, it just ends there! There were some new Southern Baptist missionaries who had arrived THAT DAY in Namwala. So we headed to their house to visit with them and welcome them. Then, we headed to where we were staying for the night--The Ila Inn. They were the cutest little huts with a bed, tv, small fridge, and then a little bathroom!

They overlooked the Kafue River.

Not long after we arrived, though, we saw that the power was out. No power = no fans = MISERABLE. The huts were SO hot. Wes and Laurie saved the day because they had battery operated fans from the USA that ran all night--we put it in our mosquito net with us and were quite comfortable! For supper, I had to cook on an outdoor gas grill hooked to a propane tank. Wes and Laurie had brought all of this stuff with them for us to stay ONE NIGHT at this place --- can you see how much harder things are over there?!

So I was back to my cooking outside days from living in a hut...Blu thought it was quite comical, but me...not so much :)

We ended our evening with a game of Hand and Foot--can't remember who won but I'm sure it was me and Laurie. We got back into our hut and there were fat spiders on the walls. I seriously just wanted to cry. But instead I took out my contacts and climbed under the mosquito net so I couldn't see them and they couldn't see me, and it worked! I slept like a baby.. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Zambia, Day Two

When you head 1 1/2 hours out into the bush on a rainy day, it's not possible for it to be a one day trip. And there aren't motels to stay in along the way. Luckily, there is Macha. Macha is a rural area way out in the middle of nowhere that is extremely developed. The Brethren in Christ Church first put a medical clinic here. Then, John Hopkins University put a malaria research center here. Then, some Americans started a school here. Now the area has an airstrip, and the Netherlands are financing many other projects in this area (even a university is projected!) Since so many Americans/Dutch/etc. come to Macha to work, they have guest houses and dorms, so we had a place to stay.

We arrived around 4pm and it was POURING. There was an American couple there who is running the school who were hoping to recruit us to run the boarding part of the school, so we had planned to eat supper with them just to be kind. When we arrived at 4 and nobody was around, we called this couple to get keys to our house. Instead, they came and picked us up and took us to their house. The roads were probably the worst I have seen in Zambia and this man drove FAST. My arm was bruised on the back door as we flew over potholes! (I was holding Cason!) Then, I noticed something cold on my arm. I look up, and the sunroof is leaking. Laurie and I start giggling in the back and the next thing you know the sunroof is just pouring water down on us! Ok, pouring might be a slight exaggeration, but it was a steady flow of rainwater! The absurdity of the situation--being tired, hot, and sweaty from traveling/visiting all day, riding with some stranger to who knows where, and then getting soaked along the way--it proved too much for us in the backseat. I was laughing so hard I was in tears. :)

When we got to their house, we looked around at the school and were quite impressed. It was about 5:00 now, so we sat in their living room (we don't know these people from Adam!) just twiddling our thumbs. The phone rings and it is the "Dutch people." Apparently, we are eating at their house and dinner will be at 7:30. So we sit some more...kinda wondering what we are doing there!!

Supper was interesting! This Dutch couple (I'm not using their names so that they won't be able to find my blog!!) was very nice and VERY visionary. The meal was delicious..we had soft tacos, Indonesian rice, and the biggest bowl of guacamole I have ever seen. (Avocados are about 20 cents in Zambia and are huge!) We then had tea/coffee and some custard. It was very European. We stayed until about 10pm, while the "Dutch man" (as Blu calls him) explained his plans for the growth of Macha. It was kinda interesting--his belief was that we are more than conquerors through Christ and so the world is here for us to conquer. He had great plans and will probably do amazing things in Macha and the surrounding area as far as humanitarian development, but we kinda differed in ways to go about reaching people in Zambia. We weren't really sure if they were hoping we would join them in Macha or what, so it was kinda awkward at times.

We got back to our rooms and thought, "wow...this was an interesting evening!" It was a good connection to make, however, and we will laugh about the vehicle that rained on us for years to come! In Zambia, you never know what each day will hold and who you will meet! And, finally, Day Two in Zambia came to an end... :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Zambia, Day Two

Sorry I skipped yesterday - had to get a cavity filled and take Cason for his 4 month appointment and shots. He weighed in at 15.1 pounds and 26 inches (50% of weight and 80% of height!) Isn't he cute??

Ok, I'm trying to think of things that would interest you about driving out into the bush. There are, of course, no public restrooms, so if you have to go you just find a bush and assume about 50 Zambian children are watching you. There are no rest stops or picnic tables, so for lunch we just pulled over, Laurie made sandwiches, and then we got back into the car to eat. Ok, now for the good stuff. :)

Our first reunion was with Mapanza Baptist Church. Maxwell was the first one we saw-he is the pastor of the church.

The church has grown since we have left and Maxwell has even started another church that is larger than his own in a nearby village!

Maxwell walked us to his hut where he pulled out his new guitar and played us a welcoming song.

His wife, Priscilla joined us and gave me a big hug!

Their daughter, Lwiito (means "call" - Maxwell named her that because of his call from God to preach) had grown so much and was very shy around us. Their 2nd daughter, Cibotu, passed away in 2007. God then blessed them with a son, who they named Blu! They call him Bluboy and we got tons of pictures with him!

Then we hiked to Margaret's house. At this point, Cason was sweating and starting to turn red. It was humid, flies were swarming us, and it was quite the hike to Margaret's. Right about then I was thinking, "why me, God? I can't do this again..." We show up to Margaret's house, and she comes running out of her house and gives me a hug. She was pouring sweat and our faces were touching, and for those of you who know me, you know I am not a very "touchy" person. So I was trying to stay calm when she starts singing and spinning me around to dance with her! Whatever she was singing was a LONG song, and I was thinking "whoever has the camera better put it down NOW!"

Blu thought it was hilarious of course and was yelling "Dance Darbi!" Margaret then backs up and gives me a huge chest bump! I quickly get out of the range of the camera and tell Blu it is his turn!! Seriously though, Margaret is my favorite Zambian woman. She just radiates joy and she loves Jesus so much. She kept saying "It is as if it is a dream!" See, she was sick and was about to leave for the clinic for a few days. We actually weren't supposed to arrive until the next day, so she was frantic that she was going to miss us, and all of a sudden, we arrived! God worked all of that out for sure. I love that woman!

We then tried to meet with the chief, only to find he was out of town. I guess "meet with a chief" sounds vague. Typically, you would get someone to take you to the chief to introduce you. He probably is very educated and very well-dressed. It is customary for you to present him with a gift when you visit him. He lived in a nice home out in the bush with a private fence. Anyway, since he wasn't around, we talked to the town councilman about land for an orphanage. We had recently found out that the term "orphanage" is not a good term to use in Zambia. Many Zambians feel that it is the job of the extended family to care for orphans. While we can see their point, it's just not happening in Zambia. Too many orphans are shipped off to uncles who abuse them in various ways and are treated like slaves. So, anyway, we were more careful with our terminology and talked more about "a home for orphans where they would get a good education." The councilman seemed very excited. Honestly, most people in the bush see a white person with a dream like ours and think "money, electricity, water, development." They want to know what we can do for them. And that is ok--we do want to bring development to a rural area. So this councilman said that he would meet with the headmen (the men under the chief--compare a chief to a governor and the headmen to mayors) and they would select some land for us and they would present it to the chief. We left a little discouraged, thinking "that's it? that's as far as we got?" But we got a call the next day saying that the headmen had all picked a spot for the orphanage and that they were already ready to present it to the chief! That is moving at lightning speed in Africa! More updates on land to come.

Still not finshed with Day Two--it was a busy day! I'll conclude Day 2 tomorrow with a blog about Macha.