Monday, April 26, 2010


Well, I had one of those “Welcome to Africa” moments last night. I had been watching a Gaither Vocal Band DVD with the Ronald’s in the main sitting room. I was knitting until I got such a big tangle that I decided I couldn’t deal with it in the low light. When the video was over and I was picking up my backpack when there was a sudden sharp pain on my left thumb. I was wondering what bug could have got me (I was thinking, “There was a wasp in here?”) or if perhaps it might be something bigger, so I looked down. Sure enough, there was a scorpion about the size of the one I killed in my house a few weeks ago. Mrs. Ronald put some ice on it and gave me some suggestions of things to take that would help with the pain. If you’ve ever wondered how it feels to be stung by a scorpion, let me tell you, DON’T DO IT. I don’t think I got its whole load, or because it was smaller it didn’t have as much venom, but to quote Beth, OWIE! I would have to say that in the scale of bits I’ve gotten, its worse than a wasp sting, but not as bad as a fuzzy caterpillar! Luckily when I came home there was still some ice in my defrosting fridge, so I was able to put that on until the ibuprofen kicked in.

Speaking of the fridge—URGH! Because the power goes out frequently out here, most of the fridges have serious ice problems. Ours was getting to the point where we had only about half of the top shelf for our use because of the ice. Well, yesterday I took all the had-to-be-refrigerateables down to another house, unplugged the fridge, and waited. I unplugged it at about 1:30, and when I got home with my scorpion sting at 9:30ish, there was still quite a bit of ice in the fridge. I chipped it out, and left the fridge to air out overnight. I wanted to get it up and running again before Beth arrived back home with her friend Crystal.

Today I’ve been cleaning house, doing laundry, and trying to be ready for Beth and Crystal’s arrival. My thumb feels much better today—its rather tingly and if I bump it it hurts, but not its not near as bad as it was last night. The moral of the story? Stay away from scorpions! I’m hoping the fridge will be cold enough to put stuff back in it soon. Thinking of which, I need to go get some more milk. In this tea drinking household, it disappears quite quickly!

Friday, April 23, 2010


First--proof that I was within 30 or so feet of President Banda-


Furthermore, pictoral evidence that Pete F. DOES own something other than khakis. To bad you can't see the long pants...


A very cute baby who was in front of me-


Just one of the many heavily laden trees arround me--one got knocked totally down there were so many people in/on it!


Here are some pictures from last weekend at Kalenge
First, the new Orchard Garden Get-a-Way


Just for you Daddy--one of the beautiful doors on the units. Sorry, Photobucked turned it on its side...


A CHLORINATED POOL. Will wonders never cease... Apparently it has a heater too!


A few random pictures from other times. First, in case any of you wondered, here is what P.O. Box 20, Ikelenge looks like.


And lastly, here is my class hard at work on one of the last days of school this term. I just noticed that one of the 5th graders has her hand up. This is a very true to life pictures of my class!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

With a rattledy bang like a thousand tin cans...

So started a book about an old school bus that I remember from my childhood, and so we went down the road today into Ikelenge to see the President. We took 32 folding chairs in with us for the President's entourage, and they made talking (and almost thinking!) impossible. We dropped off the chairs, found a spot in the shade, and started to wait. Origionally President Banda was supposed to arrive at 11, so we got there about 10:20ish. Well, as 11 rolled by, and then 12, we treked back the the car to get off our feet and rest a bit. About 1:00 the first helicopter flew over with a load of important people, and then maybe 1:30ish another helicopter flew in. Beth and I stood in the huge crowd in the sweltering heat and considered if this was realy worth it. Finally at about 2:30, President Banda made his apprerance. He spoke in English which was then loosly translated into Lunda. The main points of his rather long speach were
a) The roads would need to be fixed because this is an international road (into Angola) and
b) because Ikelenge has now been officially named a boma (which basically means it will get more government money, a bigger police staion, military presence, better healthcare, and 'many of the things you are asking for will come as a matter of course.')
c) He (President Banda) values the people of NWP, and says that there is great wealth under our feet. We are the new copper belt! (????)
d) He is very sensitive to the fact that becames of the votes of NWP, he gained office.

In other words, a lot of cheap talk which may or may not have results. The biggest thing is getting the road fixed. Apparently, there is also talk of a railway between Angola and Zambia going down into the Copper Belt as well as a pineapple factory in Ikelenge. The next few decades should be very interesting!

We finally arrived home about 3:30--about 5 hours of our lives were spent on the president. I'm glad I got to finally see him, but waiting in the crowd was not a lot of fun. I was amazed at how little security there was, and how close the people could get. Only in Africa... The President's lack of punctuality is also an "only in Africa" thing. It kind of explains a lot about what goes on (or lack thereof) here!

Well, I think I'm going to go and finish up the skirt I'm making as well as wipping up some matching head scarves. Oh, speaking of chetengi, I saw more President Banta ones than I've ever seen before! They must have come over yesterday with the helicopter load of people who 'secured' the area. I was also surprised to see quite a few Obama shirts and even an Obama chetengi. Interesting...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Driving is an adventure over here...

Yesterday I went into Ikelenge to check the mail (there was some!), buy a chetengi for a skirt I want to make, and then headed over to a a ladies bible study. They cut the grass on the side of the road which makes it harder to see the edges, but I managed to jounce through the holes and arrive in one piece. You can't take you eyes off the road for a second! 'This kind of driving wakes a gal up...'

I enjoyed the bible study at Joyce's a lot. We sang some songs, prayed, and then dove into 2 Timothy chapter 1. I was caught rather off guard when I found that I was expected to be the 'speaker' but hopefully some of my poor jumbled thoughts made it through! Joyce translated for me, so I was able to follow along with what they were saying as well as hearing my words in Lunda. It was good to get off the station, see other people, and hear Lunda. I hope to keep going during the break and when I'm able during the term as well.

I went around another way on the way back, and to my relief I made it back safely. I had an interesting conversation with Mr. Ronald on my return about what to do if I hit anything or anyone, and then headed back to the house. I went over to Vickies and made more food for her dog (I'm looking after Barney, Miss Hoyte's old dog for her) and then a late supper with Beth. All in all, a lovely day.

Beth and I are going to be working on our office/guest room today. Beth's friend Crystal is coming from Canada next week to visit for two weeks, so we have some work to do! Hopefully the big lizard and flatie that hang out there will vacate...

I also plan to work on that skirt and making a bag to lug my church stuff around with. My other bag is getting rather dirty and besides, it would be fun to have a chetengi bag.

Yesterday was really hot, but the mornings and evenings are starting to cool off. Hurry up dry season!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Another view...

To get another take on what's going on out here, check out my housemate, Beth's, blog:

She says not to take anything she write seriously, but I'v enjoyed reading her perspectives. It looks like a storm is blowing in, so I had better go turn off the internet. Things you don't have to worry about in the states...

Very domestic

Yesterday Beth and I sorted through every cabinet in the kitchen except the two we origionally planned to go through and put away all the food that the Poidevins had given us as they were packing up. We did a lot of baking--since we had the oven on and were using propane anyway, we went ahead and made a pumpkin pie, I made some more yogurt, and we baked some cookies to decorate with the Ronald's kids.

I'm having trouble getting pictures uploaded, but here is a picture of the kids working on their cookies.

Its so quiet on the station right now--its just Beth, the Ronalds and me. I'm almost starting to miss the sound of happy children...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Well, its been an interesting few days!

The station seems so quiet without the kids! I’ve been enjoying sleeping in, helping Beth in her classroom (she’s completely rearranging it and redoing her library), working in my classroom, reading, looking at stuff for next term, started working on my schedual for next term, and various other projects. Its so wonderful to not have to be up first thing in the morning, to have the freedom to laze around a bit as well as sorting out things so that next term they’ll be better.

Saturday night Beth and I tried out a sourdough donut recipe that was both very good and has the added bonus of using easily obtainable ingredients. After our little cooking adventure, the single ladies gathered again to watch the next few installments of “Cramford,” a wonderful mini-series that is very Jane Austinesc as well as quite funny. It was pouring rain all evening and as Beth and I had once again planned ahead and NOT brought our umbrellas, we waited for a lull in the storm to dash home. I was a little concerned as Ceili wasn’t waiting at the house for us, and I didn’t know where she was. I was going to let her in the house, but seeing as I couldn’t find her, I went ahead and locked up as normal and went to bed.

Sunday morning I woke up about an hour earlier than I wanted to and realized that nature was calling. When I went out of my room into the hallway, I realized that there was a big puddle. I looked at the ceiling and didn’t see any obvious leak, but that dosen’t necessarily mean anything. I went in the bathroom and found several puddles and that the bath mats were soaked through. A trip further down the hall and into the kitchen revealed that the kitchen had quite a bit of water in it too. It was apparent that the water had also gone into the dinning room, but dried up during the night. I opened the kitchen door and found a lot of dirt right outside it as well as a very happy Ceili. Because of where our house is, all the water washes down the road in front of the shop and down our upper path creating a waterfall off our step into the cleverly positioned soak away lid. The water that doesn’t hit the upper path continues down the road, floods the lower path and the porch. During the night we got almost 3.5 inches of rain, so there must have been a raging river coming down the road, then down our pathway, overwhelmed our soakaway system as well as backing up the two drains, so the water came in under the kitchen door while the toiler overflowed. All that to say that we had several gallons of water in our house. Beth and I sopped it up with towels, wringing them into our blue bin and trying to get most of the water from under our cabinets and stove. We pulled the bottom drawer of the stove out to help it air out, and discovered three pans we didn’t know we owned. No wonder we couldn’t close that drawer very easily...

While we were in the middle of mopping up, Mrs. Ronald came over and told us that they were hurrying out to the cottage, as it was flooded. Since they weren’t going to be able to give us a lift anymore, we finished soaking up the water and ate some breakfast. Then I went to church with Margie, Bethany and Michelle while Beth stayed home as she wasn’t feeling well. When I got back I found out that the cottage was not merely flooded, but mostly washed away! Only one exterior wall is left and a few doorframes and interior walls were holding the roof up. Most of the furniture and dishes had floated downriver—the furniture was recovered but most of the dishes are gone. We figure the cottage is about 40 years old, and it was made with sun baked bricks instead of fired. The river had risen more than I think anyone here had ever seen—we’re just thankful that most of the villages aren’t right on the river and we haven’t heard of anyone loosing their house. So, Mr. Ronald got some poles cut and put them up so the roof wouldn’t fall down, so the cottage is basically a chotta now. We saw the pictures last night when we gathered for evening fellowship. We’re debating whether or not to tell Miss Hoyte—its not like she can do anything about it and as far as I know we plan to rebuild it. Its been a very valuable spot for students, staff and visitors.

Today, I mopped most of the floors in the house and swept off the porch so that we wouldn’t track as much dirt in. I helped Beth move a lot of things in her classroom, and we discovered White Ants just starting under one of her bookcases. Better now than later! After lunch, Beth and I took Jill’s truck first to Hillwood to see if my camera charger would work for Helen and then to see if the butchery was open and then into Ikelegne to check the mail, get talk time, and drop some boxes off at the bookstore. On the way back, we gave a ride to a lady and her toddler from in front of the clinic. They were going to the farm as well and since we were heading back that way to try again to get a bag of meal for the Ronalds, we put them in the back and went our merry way. Now, this is the first time I’ve ever driven a left hand drive, and the first time that I’ve driven this truck (its a stick but I know how to drive that), and the first time that I’ve driven on these narrow, potholey roads. About halfway back I got a little too far over on the left and started slipping into the ditch, Beth grabbed for the steering wheel to help correct, hit the windshield wipers, and in the ensuing chaos I slipped the left side of the truck over the edge of the road and into the muddy ditch. Great, my first time out, and we were stuck.

We opened the back of the truck to let the lady out, and then we set about getting out. Beth pushed from the back while I drove, but the back wheels had nothing to grab onto after moving a bit just spun. We bent down the grass to see if we could make some more traction as well as see where we were going, and Beth tried pushing from the side to get me over the hump in the middle of the road on the right side. We were attracting quite the crowd by now, and I was afraid that we were just going to slip deeper into the ditch, tip over, or squish Beth. We were about to call the Ronalds, when a man on a bike came down the road and took charge. With him, Beth, and several of the ladies who were standing around gawking pushing I was able to get the truck over the hump in the middle of the road and out of the ditch. Whew! Then, to my amazement, the lady with the toddler got BACK IN the car as well as teenage guy who was apparently going that way as well. I wouldn’t have gotten back in with me! Well, from there it was an uneventful trip to the turn off where I let my passengers out, then to the butchery where we bought some sausage with lemon (can’t wait to try them...) and managed to get a 25 kg bag of meal for the Ronalds.

We made it back home as it was starting to sprinkle, dropped off the meal and asked Caleb where his parents were. Turns out that they were taking down another tree this afternoon, and it had bounced off the smaller tree beside it (instead of smashing it as expected) and up onto the corner of upper school! The senior section of the library is destroyed—the ceiling is caved in and the walls smashed out. I think the books are alright—the books that were on the now missing wall were thrown out of the drizzling rain into the intermediate section and the rest of the nearby shelves and piano were tarped off. The men were busily carting off rubbish and getting ready to trap off the corner while Mr. and Mrs. Ronald organized things. I’m just so thankful that it didn’t happen during term, that no one was hurt, and that the books aren’t damaged. It’s a good thing Brass Tacks is coming out this summer—we have quite the repair job in front of us.

Despite all these incidents, God has been with us. Our whole house didn’t flood, and the only damaged thing was my bag of meal that was behind the door. I’m drying out the wet stuff in the oven, but most of it was fine. The whole house does smell like corn now... No one was hurt when the cottage washed away, and most of the things in it were recovered. When I went off the road I didn’t kill the car or myself or my passengers, and we were able to get out without having to call the Ronalds. (Which is a good thing as they were rather busy at the library at the time!) When the tree went over, it only took out a corner of the building and didn’t fall down the middle or even onto Room 1 which Michelle has just been paining. Again, no injuries, and very little damage. While life has been a little more interesting than we might like, the Lord’s saving hand has been upon us and this school and the people around us. Truly, the Lord has been good to us. Praise His name!

Friday, April 9, 2010

And so starts term break...

Yesterday was a wonderful day. Jill, Vickie, and the last of the children made it safely out, the storm held off till the evening, and Beth and I got to sleep in. We puttered around in the morning—I was catching up on letters and then we went for a walk to the garden behind the dinning hall. We got a few supplies out of the kitchen, and then returned home. In the afternoon almost all of us still on the station went swimming, and then after draining the pool we headed back up to our respective houses for supper. The single girls gathered to watch a movie, and though we had to stop once because of the lighting, we had a wonderful evening.

After going for the walk, I took care of the enormous ticks that Ceili had managed to pick up. I had been told to dab alcohol on their heads as that makes them faint and thus easier to pull out. It took Beth holding Ceili and dabbing alcohol and me pulling ticks, but we got them all off and squished. Gross! The other excitement yesterday was I killed a scorpion in our house. While Beth and I were eating supper, she saw something on the floor and said, “That almost looks like a scorpion!” I looked over and saw that it WAS a scorpion. I grabbed a shoe Beth’s mom sent over in one of her container boxes, and smacked it. Luckily it was only a little one and it didn’t sting either of us as we both go barefoot around the house.

I’m going to try my hand at making yogurt during the break. Beth doesn’t really care for it, but I really enjoy it, plus, it is made with easily obtainable ingredients. After I finish this up I’m going to go get some started from the kitchen.

Today I sorted through some books Bethany gave me to put in my classroom library, and I’ve continued to work on my sadly neglected correspondence. Hopefully there are enough stamps left!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fools Day at Sakeji

Today was full of little, unexpected happenings in honor of April Fool’s day. The kids were shocked when I told them that growing up we weren’t allowed to do anything to my brother who’s birthday falls on this strangely appropriate day. I was on tables last night, so I let the kids set them a little crazy. They had great fun putting marmite in strange places, hiding things in the tins, and switching the small serving spoons and butter knife with the teachers things.

This morning at breakfast the kitchen guys put the teachers tea and coffee at the other end of the dinning room, and at the front where they normally were, there were two pitchers of red ‘juice.’ The kids all gulped down their cup of water and were clamoring for seconds, so we let them go up and find out for themselves that they were enjoying glasses of water with red food coloring! The kids greed made it all the more funny—they were so eager to get some of the ‘better stuff.’

My 5th and 6th grade boys left me a gift on my desk—a note saying, “Thanks Miss Burklin for being such a good teacher.—from Fr 5 & 6 boys” and a tin making suspicious scrabbling noises. I shook the tin and held it out the window before opening it, and out jumped a few cricuts. I looked in and saw a really big, ugly caterpillar in there to. Its so nice to be loved!

As much fun as all those other pranks were, I think the best April fool’s prank was the one Beth and I pulled. My kids had a spelling exam first period, so right before second period I went down to lower school, went in the middle room and through to the long rooms across the back, and waited behind the door of Beth’s classroom. She finished Scripture, got her 2nd graders out the door for spelling, and then told her first graders, “I’m just going to leave! Bye!” and walked out. I waited for a few seconds to make sure she was out the door and to enjoy the kids, “There’s no teacher! We don’t have a teacher!” before bursting out of the back door and starting math class as if nothing had happened. Meanwhile Beth was going up to upper school to take my students for a math exam. It was a lot of fun for us, and it made our kids appreciate their respective teachers a bit more.

Well, I had better run—grades are due on Saturday and they aren’t putting themselves in the computer. Happy Easter all!