Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nsanti Baptist Church

Another Sunday, another church! We are making the rounds visiting all of the churches from when we used to live in Zambia. Today we headed 2 1/2 hours into the bush to Nsanti. Pastor Robinson is the pastor there...a sweet 70 year old man with white hair :) We love him!! They were SOOOO excited to see us, especially our kids! When we left there, Caedmon was 3 months old, so they were so surprised to see us with 2 extra kids :)

Church went well--the kids pretty much just played in the dirt and chased each other around the church, and I held Cason outside for most of the service. It was only about an hour and a half long, so it wasn't too bad. My kids were SO filthy though..just covered in dirt and mud!

After church, we went to Pastor Robinson's house for a visit and a snack. Our kids had so much fun running around, playing in the chicken coop, and shaking the guava trees for guavas. They fed us "mapopwe", which is roasted maize, my favorite thing ever to eat!! It was a nice visit.

We left and since we were driving right through Mapanza we decided to go to the orphanage land, because I had yet to see it! It was AMAZING. For one thing, it is SO rural...complete bush! I mean, WAY off the beaten path, grass taller than the truck, BUSH. I was shocked. Then, out of nowhere, there was a borehole that we had drilled! I could visualize our house there and a soccer field and lots of kids running around the land one day. I'm so excited!!

All in all, it was a LONG day..left our house at 7:30am and got back at 4pm. Thank goodness for a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for supper!! :)
Cason (look how dirty!) after a long day in the truck and at church

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Trip to Lusaka

This past week, we took a 3 day trip to the capitol city, Lusaka. It is about a 3 1/2 hour trip from our town but takes a little longer with the kids. They do pretty good traveling, except for Cason's high pitched squeal that he uses to make sure everyone remembers that he is still around!

As we come into Lusaka, there is a place called Sandy's Creations. It is a huge greenhouse and garden area, equipped with two huge children's playgrounds and a cafe that served delicious food! The kids thought they were in paradise!!

While in Lusaka, we did grocery shopping (for a few things I can't get in Choma), got 35 Bibles from the Bible Society, got Blu's guns picked up from customs, and did numerous errands. Although we enjoy the numerous restaurants in Lusaka, there are SO many people there that it was such a relief to get home to our simple life in Choma!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Boy Can Eat....

Baby Cason's favorite part of the day is mealtime. It can take him up to 45 minutes to finish a meal, and he enjoys EVERY bit of it. If his food falls on the ground and the cats start eating it, he screams at them. Today I looked over (long after I had finished my meal) and this is what I captured.. :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Another Sunday at Choma Baptist..

We finally took our camera to church!! Enjoy seeing what one of our typical Sundays is like! :)
Choma Baptist was started by a missionary sometime in the mid-90s. They have had very little work done with them by missionaries--they have done most everything by themselves. They seem to be doing well and have about 60 attend each week.

Our kids at Sunday School...they memorize scripture (Genesis 2:6 was this week), sing songs, and prepare their presentation for big church)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Breaking Ground!

This weekend, we broke ground on the land! We are building one of the workers' houses-a 3 bedroom/1 bath house for our guy workers to stay. (Groundskeeper, security, etc.) We will then build one for the female teachers. Anyway, we decided that if we start on this and can get it done by the time teams come in April/May, it would really help. It will also help to have a dry and safe place to store building supplies, such as cement!

Blu had a crew of 6 guys who helped him dig the footings for the foundation. On Monday, Blu will go back with cement and they will start laying the footings. Yeah I'm not really sure what that means, but it sounds like I know what I'm talking about doesn't it?!

African army ants!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Bible Study in Tonga

An email home...

Hey everyone!! I wanted to write, even though we have no internet so that you don’t get behind on our lives!! Many of you know that Blu has been sick. On Saturday, he went to a town nearby and it was lunchtime so he picked up a couple of sausage links from a roadside stand. We have eaten there numerous times in the past-even fed our kids from there!! But it turns out something in the food did not sit well with Blu, and he has gastroenteritis. He missed church Sunday, was better Monday, but woke up sick today. He has bad stomach cramps and he said food burns his stomach. Thankfully, we have an amazing medical clinic in town (Dr. Jain and his wife Dr. Jain). They are from India and their two adult children are in the USA (one a doc in San Francisco and one an engineer in Chicago). So anyway, Blu got medicine, oral rehydration solution, and they said they would even put him on an IV if he gets more dehydrated. And all for the low price of $30. They even do surgeries here, so we are glad they are nearby in case of emergency.

So Blu’s camping trip out to the bush got cancelled, which enabled me to go to choir practice. This time, I took notes on the songs of words I didn’t know so that I can learn them better! It was so fun to gather with the women and sing. I have finally learned their names and now I am starting to learn their personalities. There is Anna, who is extremely shy but thinks I am so funny. There is Mrs. Musanje, who is the drama queen of the group---something is always aching on her. There is Sister Sakala, who is the little spitfire that you do not want to mess with! Sister Caterpillar (her last name means caterpillar so they said I could call her that) is the oldest of the group and mothers me and makes sure I understand what is going on. Sister Phiri is a bit rough around the edges but has the biggest smile ever. They are a neat group of women. I am excited to be a part of them, and on Feb 25th I get to attend a baby shower with them!

We have been losing power about 4 hours a day, for anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours at a time. It’s not a big deal, except for the heat with no fans. It has been about 82 in the house each day. The worst part is when the power goes out the internet goes off, and sometimes it takes days to get back on. When power is out at night, the kids go to bed early and Blu and I play poker with peanuts, War, and Uno. Fun times!

Blu is feeling better already and has rescheduled his camping trip for Friday-Saturday. I think I’m going to have our neighbor friends over for a popcorn and movie night with the kids on Friday night. That should be fun!

Funny things my kids have said recently:

Caedmon: Cambree, you are the yogurt girl!
Cambree: No, I am the yogurt LADY.

I cooked t-bone steak instead of chicken one night:
Cambree: Mama, can I have some of that black chicken?

Cambree: Look Mama!! My arms are getting brown like my friends!!!

In other notes, Cambree got a black eye this week from her older brother. He dropped a chain off a tree and hit her under her eye. Cason is walking!!!! He has also moved into a big boy bed and seems to like it. He doesn’t realize that he can get out of it…with the mosquito net down he thinks he is trapped in there!

I guess that’s all for a good update for now!! We miss you all so much!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Grand Central Station

This weekend our house felt like Grand Central Station!! It was unusual for us--in the States, we didn't have many people over, mainly because our house was small and I just feel like I'm not a very good hostess. In Zambia, however, you have no choice!!

I invited my friend Hildah and her 4 year old daughter Laurie to spend the weekend with us. They came via bus from a town about 2 hours away, and they were both dressed up and so excited when they got here. Laurie kept telling me, "I'm in my nice clothes!"

It was definitely an interesting thoughts are just swirling in my head, so I'll just slow down and describe it all.

I guess I've been struggling with how to minister to people. The Bible says "Freely you have received, freely give." We have so much more, in terms of material things, compared to our Zambian friends. It is hard to come to terms with the fact that I was born in America, and they were born in Zambia, because God wanted it that way. So I've been trying to use what I have been freely given to help others. However, you don't want to "ruin" a Zambian by turning them into an American, making them greedy, or causing them to have difficulty functioning in their own culture, so it's a fine line to walk, and I'm still struggling to walk it. Obviously I can't help everybody, I can't feed everybody, etc. But I feel like watching people who are hungry pass by me on the road while I sit in our air-conditioned truck is not what God had in mind. Yesterday at the music rally our devotion was on how David took Mephibosheth into his house and he got to eat at the king's table. It was a devotion I needed to hear.

So right now, here's what I'm praying. First, that God would give me more love and more compassion for the Tonga people. That this love and compassion would overflow out of me and be so huge that it could only be from God. Secondly, that I would see needs and meet them before I am even asked. That God would show me where I can help and how. Please pray that for me!!

So back to our visitors. We decided to take Hildah out to eat on Friday night, along with our friend Mulenga. We went into this little restaurant, which would be comparable to a small diner back home. Hildah just kept saying over and over again "This is so beautiful. I can't believe how beautiful this place is..." :) To see through the eyes of a Zambian...

It was interesting throwing another 4 year old child into the mix with our kids. They played well together and had a good time. Children, and adults, in Zambia sometimes come off as very rude because of the way they speak English. Instead of saying, "Can I have a banana?" they say "You give me a banana." It's so hard to get used to, as my first instincts are to think "How rude!!! You have no manners!!" when really it's just the way they are used to talking. Bathtime was funny--to see very white Cambree and very black Laurie in there together was hilarious. However, when I went to wash Laurie I noticed that her arms and legs were like sticks, and her belly is huge with a protruding belly button...malnutrition.
Me and Laurie

Zambian children don't really have any rules to follow--they just play and are loud and kinda do whatever they want. Therefore, bedtime at our house was a little crazy. Our kids go to bed at 7:30 or 8, no matter what. Laurie is used to just staying up as late as her mom does and then going to bed with her. That made for an interesting evening!

Ok so now on Saturday...back to Grand Central Station. Our kids LOVE our neighbors...absolutely love every second of playing with them. So they came over on Saturday and stayed for 4 1/2 hours!!! They played in the backyard the whole time and I was busy providing them koolaid, peanuts, and bananas.
A game of Freeze Tag

Then, Hildah and I decided to go visit a friend she knows that lives nearby. We stayed for about an hour and she asked if it was ok for her friend to come back here. I said "Sure! I'm going to start supper preparations while you visit." Well, 2 hours later her friend was still here and supper was ready. Her friend had a 4 year old girl with her as well. So I knew that culturally, I should feed them. Now in America, you would worry "What will I feed them?! Do I have enough food? Will they even like it?? They're Zambian!!" But in Zambia, that doesn't matter. All that matters is that if a guest is there at dinnertime, you feed them. You eat what you have, until it's gone, and that's all that matters. So I fed them all! We had fried potatoes/sausage/onions, scrambled eggs with tomatoes, tortillas, and then some nshima for the Zambians. Luckily there was enough, and then the women cleaned up the kitchen. They all stayed until late playing bowling on the Wii and it was a great time.
Mulenga, Hildah, Bridget, and Bridget's niece Miriam (possibly a budding romance between Mulenga and Bridget!!)

We woke Sunday morning and Blu was VERY sick, probably due to some bad sausage (from a roadside stand) that he ate on Saturday. So he stayed home from church and I went with Caedmon and Cambree.
Cambree and Laurie watching Special Agent Oso while waiting to leave for church

It was a good service, although Cambree loves to misbehave during church so that everyone will look at her and laugh. I sang with the choir again and the men and youth were very surprised. Church was long--from 9:30 to 1pm, and at 1, four of the men announced that since Blu was sick, they were coming to my house with me to visit him. It was once again, I knew that culturally I needed to feed them. It didn't matter what, or how much, but just the gesture of offering food to visitors is what is necessary. So they ate peanut butter and honey sandwiches, chips, grapes, and some cookies. They were all very grateful and Blu enjoyed the visit-they shared Scripture, prayed, and talked. Zambians are BIG into visiting others, especially when they are sick.

About this time, I was ready to take our visitors to the bus station and have our house back to ourselves!! It was a CRAZY weekend, but when it's all over, it felt like we were able to minister to others, to show Christ's love, while still keeping cultural boundaries in place!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Music Rarry

As you can tell from my lack of posting, we were without internet for most of the week. We have also been without rain, so it has been very hot!! We had a good week! It included us walking through the market in the rain as a family, Blu getting scammed (a blog for another day...), a trip to a Zambian hospital, Blu traveling out to the bush to begin preparing the land, me supposedly leading a Bible study in Tonga, only to find they had moved it to the next week, a weekend visit from a Zambian friend, and a music rarry!! What a week!

I'll start with the music rally. Zambians can't say their "L's" so they substitute it with a "r." So they called it the "Music Rarry." About 6 choirs gathered today at Choma Baptist Church. I was all ready to sing with our group--I had my purple shirt, black skirt and everything! I was SO nervous!!

They told me to show up between 6 and 7, but knowing Zambians, I showed up at 8, and I was the first to arrive :) I helped the women to get water (they were serving hot tea and buns), and they were thrilled to see me carry the water on my head like they do. I told them I am really a Zambian in the body of a white person :)

So when it was our turn, I marched up to the front and sang 3 songs with the choir. They were in other languages than what we know, but mouthing "watermelon" seems to work when you don't know the words, even in Zambia! ;) They were most impressed with my "dance moves," which included swinging my arms and hips, tap dance type thing with my feet, and clapping while going down to my knees. What a workout!! When it was over they called me up to the front and I said a few words in Tonga, thanking them for allowing me to sing with them. There were about 60 women there.

I am having a really good time with this group of women! I'm telling myself not to think of it as "I'm the missionary--I need to help them." Instead, I am seeking friends and fellowshipping with them just as another woman. Of course, there are cultural differences, and I know I mess up a lot, but I still love being with them :)

I will blog tomorrow about our weekend visit with my friend Hildah and her daughter Laurie. It has been eye-opening to see things through the eyes of a Zambian--cultural differences, etc. What a week!
We finally figured out a way to strap Cason to the tire swing!

Cambree loves having her picture taken :) This past week she said she was "driving home." Blu asked "Where is home?" And she yelled "Alvarado!!!!"

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mapanza Baptist Church

Today we enjoyed worshipping about 1 hour into the bush, a village called Mapanza. (the future site of New Day Orphanage!!) These are definitely our favorite people. The church has grown from about 8 people when we left 4 years ago to about 30 there today! They have also planted another church in a nearby village.

Our kids were less than angelic, but I guess they were just normal toddler/preschool age kids. The service was 3 hours long, with no program for children, so I was REALLY missing Ms. Dianna and Ms. Ann and anyone else who has ever helped me with the kids at church!!!! It was an exhausting morning, and the whole service was in Tonga, but we still walked away feeling like we had worshipped. :) God is good!
Pastor Maxwell - awesome church leader!

We were surprised that we had concrete blocks to sit on instead of the usual logs!! An unexpected blessing for the 3 hour service!

The kids enjoyed walking on the tiny trails to find the church!

Cason enjoyed the ride as well!

Mulenga is here!!! Mulenga was our closest friend and yard worker before, so Blu went and picked him up on Friday to bring him to work with us. We found him a place to stay close by and we are loving having him back. We already had a dinner and a movie night with him last night! Here, he and Blu are competing on a cell phone game for the highest score. :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Playing hard

Making homemade tortillas

We have 2 of these gorgeous trees in our yard!

Playing in the rocks with one of the dogs

The kids love playing with our neighbors--Mapalo, David, Katie, and Esther. Cambree loves all the attention she gets from the older girls!

We went to the market today and walked around as a family. That drew tons of attention. Everyone had one question for us...."Are all of the children yours?" :) We bought 2 cloth wraps for me, 2 umbrellas, and 2 pairs of jeans for Cambree. The kids did great!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Care Packages

Several of you have asked us about receiving care packages in Zambia. Yes we are able to receive them at our p.o. box!

Tidwell Family
Box 630260
Choma, Zambia

Packages are very expensive to mail, so the best thing to do is probably go in with a group of people, like a Sunday School class at your church.

You can pick up a box from the post office called a flat-rate box. The cost is then about $56 to mail and you can fill it as heavy as you want.

Here are some ideas of things we would love!!

Fruit snacks/fruit rollups for kids (any kinds of snacks would be great!)
granola bars
chocolate chips
Dvds (check out the $5 dvds from Walmart! - we get bored at night!)

Also, we have several teams coming April-June, so you could always just put together some stuff to send with a team! Thanks for asking!! We love getting mail!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Land

On Tuesday, Blu drove out to Mapanza (pronounced muh-pawn-zuh). This is where the New Day Orphanage will be. He walked the land and marked boundaries, landmarks, wells, and elevation. He came back very sunburned and exhausted, but we wanted to show you the first pictures of the land!

Check out one of our boreholes!!

Caedmon and Anna

We got a visit today from the Bowman family, missionaries in Northern Zambia that we were good friends with when we lived here in 2003-2005. We got close with the Bowmans when I was pregnant with Caedmon and Amy was pregnant with Anna. We were in South Africa together for about 3 weeks, waiting for the birth of our children! Anna was born May 30, and Caedmon was born June 2nd. And here they are 4 1/2 years later! :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Most white people, Indians, and wealthy Zambians hire workers. It is very typical for one family to employ a house worker, yard worker, and night guard. When we lived in Zambia before, we had a yard worker, Mulenga, who became our very closest friend. I was always hesitant to have someone working in my house all day!

The missionaries who lived here before us had a house worker and they asked me if I would be interested in keeping her. I told them we would give it a try, and so far I am loving it!! Grinda speaks excellent English but also Tonga. She is a Christian who attends the Brethren in Christ church. She has 3 girls ages 11, 8, and 2. She is 27 years old. Her husband is a Christian as well and is a block builder. (He will probably help us make blocks for the orphanage!)

Grinda comes each day from 9-2ish and cleans my whole house!! She does dishes throughout the day, sweeps and mops the entire house, and cleans the bathrooms - every day!! It's a huge blessing because meal preparations and the kids keep me so busy, but things in Zambia get so dirty with all the dirt, so I can feel free to let Cason crawl around knowing Grinda has cleaned it all :)

I'm sure it sounds weird to Americans back home, to have a house worker, and I admit I could probably use Grinda two days a week and be just fine, but she is the main provider of her family's income, knowing that she has a steady job that puts food on her table and pays her kids' school fees. So I'll just have to get used to having someone in my house all the time, cleaning up after me! :)
Grinda playing with the kids outside

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fun in Choma

Blu and Caedmon have been busy working on a treehouse in our back yard!

We have a huge tire swing that the kids love!

This is our house. We live in Choma, in the "Riverside" area. The town is divided into sections so that people can figure out where you stay.

We were blessed to buy this truck from the Baptist Mission of Zambia!