Friday, May 27, 2011

"You have five candles on your cake,"

"so you must be turning 5!" -Anna T, staff kid, age 4.

Today marks my fifth birthday on this continent--a cool mile marker in itself, but also cool because this is the year that I reach a quarter of a century.

7th birthday--We had just been in Zambia almost 6 months, and my most vivid memory of that birthday was the cookout with the cake that was supposed to be wrapped on sticks that fell off into the fire. I don't remember being that upset by it though, after all, I was HOLDING THINGS INTO THE FIRE.

8th birthday--Another cookout, this time with friends and fellow missionaries. My mom had put together a cool treasure hunt with the chocolate being hidden in the dutch oven at the cookout spot. I think the neighbors dogs also got in a fight--I seem to remember thinking they were 'spoiling' my birthday.

20th birthday--My first time in Zambia since I was a kid, when I came to Sakeji for second term. My birthday happened to fall on my afternoon off that day, and I went to the cottage with a staff couple and the other young people. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon! We had a really nice tea with a chocolate cake decorated with marshmallows.

24th birthday--My first birthday as a full time staff member at Sakeji; my kids were pretty nice to me all day and gave me lots of sweet cards. I was so thankful to finally be where my heart had been for so long.

25th birthday--Today Mr. Ronald forgot to have me stand on my chair at breakfast, so at lunch the kids were almost beside themselves with worry that he would forget again. Don't worry--I duly stood on my chair (and did NOT tough the ceiling! I' not THAT tall!) and was sung to! I got lots of sweet notes from the kids and some great birthday hugs, as well as a cake iced with Nutella at tea. Beth and I made a lightning dash into town to get the parcels--I was kind of hoping my family's box had come, but it was the last of the boxes Beth mailed me in October last year. Pretty cool timing! All in all, it's been a great day even though I had to work, and I'm looking forward of another year in the Lord's service here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The problem with posting so infrequently is...

…you end up with REALLY long blog posts! Apologies in advance!

This morning those of us who were off duty headed off to Kelondu, a more remote assembly, and were able to witness the baptism of three ladies. We ended up walking down the road for about 15 minutes to the river, and in the course of standing at the river and walking there and back I got a awesome sunburn on my neck. Apparently in order to adequately prepare for church I now need to take some sunscreen with me… The thing I can’t figure out though is why I’m the only one who burned…

As Beth and I were walking back from the Ferguson’s tonight, I passed a line of big, black ants that were marching in a line. When I paused by them to make sure I wasn’t stepping in them, they HISSED at me. At least, that’s what it sounded like. Yet another “You know you live in the bush when…”

I’ve had to laugh a few more times this past week as ‘only in Zambia’ situations have occurred. On Monday Pete F. the owner of the game farm came over to tell us that our dogs, Ceili and Sasha had dug under the fence and been chasing Sable! Now, Sable cost around $25,000 to hunt, so the last thing I want to do is pay for one my dog may have damaged or killed! So, Ceili and Sasha are being tied up at night for the time being. I’m still a little surprised that they headed that far from the station, but I guess a nice big animal like that was just too tempting to leave alone!

On Friday Sasha, the Ronald’s dog, was trailing the senior girls as they went down to the pool for Rally, and she collided with a guy on his bicycle. Neither part was seriously hurt, but it could have been quite serious as the road down to the river is a really steep hill. Vickie had a nasty spill going down that road last year, so it’s fortunate that the Zambian wasn’t going faster. I guess that will teach her to meander on the road!

Also on Friday Ikelenge had a riot going on as people fought over who would be in charge of the newly declared boma, and whether the boma should be in Ikelenge anyway. So many people want a piece of the ‘power pie,’ and we just hope and pray that the Lord will protect this area from the worldly influences that are sure to move in with the development of our little village into a boma town.

In other news, last week I got to lay a few bricks in one of the walls on the new dining room—now I can say I helped! I love watching the arches being built on their frames and how the building changes day by day. I can’t wait to see it all finished and ready to be used—the kids are going to be so excited! I’m going to miss the old dining hall though; there is so much history there. Oh well, I guess even Sakeji has to occasionally march with the times!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Not the post I'd hoped to make next...

Even though I knew it was coming and was sick of living in suspense, even though I knew that message would mean that someone I loved was finally released from great suffering, when I found the text message from my dad saying that Opa had finally gone to be with the Lord on Saturday morning, I couldn’t help but be sad. I’ve lost my Opa and my great Grandpa Baker in the space of a year, and while I know I’ll one day get to see then again, it’s hard to know that I’ll never hear that voice again on this earth.

My Opa was a tall, strong man with an endurance that put us to shame. He was always up for a walk, loved to play tennis, and spend his retirement traveling all over the world to help teach others about his beloved Lord and Savior. Opa was also a very well read, learned man. He was a lot of fun to talk to as he had such a wide base of experience and reading to bring to conversations. Living in three continents gave him a perspective of the world that was fun to listen to.

As I got older, I realized how old fashioned European Opa was, but I loved him for that. His old world dignity, sense of duty, and how when he gave his word it meant something were all part of what made up the strong character of my Opa. This past year I read the books the three Burklin siblings (or should I say, B├╝rklin) wrote, and I was impressed in all three of them at the character of my great Opa Gustave, and the determination (or stubbornness!) that he passed on to his son (and grandson and great grandchildren!). This same determination is a quality that has stood so many of his descendants in good stead as they serve on their various mission fields. It’s a quality that I find as useful when dealing with my classroom of 5th and 6th graders as Opa did teaching at the German Bible Institute and being a teenager in war torn China.

My Opa had a deep, strong voice that he loved to use to sing hymns. One of my favorite memories of him is at one family reunion my Aunt Ruth, Opa, Oma, and I all gathered around a piano and sang together. I always think of him whenever I sing the song “Open My Eyes That I May See.” Another favorite memory was of the “Burklin Trio” singing “How Shall I Serve You Master” at the 2000 Burklin reunion. That song summed up Opa’s life, as it had his parents and later his descendants. I’m sure that Opa is now singing in the heavenly choir, and one day I’ll join him in singing hymns to our Savior.

While I’m really going to miss Opa, I’m so glad that he is where he no longer feels the pain of his battle with cancer. Cancer took his strength, his mind, and sometimes his voice from him, but now he has a new body that isn’t burdened with age and illness. Opa could barely eat for his last year on earth; now he is enjoying heavenly banquets. How hard it is for us still here to understand that life on this earth is just a beginning, a time to meet our Savior and start to be transformed into Him. We can only see the coldness of the grave, grieve for the voice forever stilled, and believe that the Lord told us the truth when He said He goes to prepare a place for us. I look forward to that day too when I’m released from this body, and will get to stand face to face with my Lord and Savior. Though death is a cruel consequence of sin that touches everything living on this earth, praise the Lord that He has conquered death, and because He lives, we can face tomorrow.

“Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;

Forgive my grief for one removed,
They creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.”

From “In Memoriam” by Tennyson

Thursday, May 5, 2011

April 2011 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family,

I’m taking a few moments from the preparations for second term to get out another newsletter—it’s always so much harder to find a spare moment during the term. The four weeks of break have flown by, and we are all getting ready to start our busy term schedules again. One of our permanent staff members, Bethany Fuller, is on a well deserved furlough this term, so we are finding out how many things she did quietly behind the scenes to keep this place organized and running. Thankfully the Lord has led some young education students to spend six weeks with us, so we have a few extra pairs of hands. As always, the more staff on station, the more we can accomplish and the more time we have to reach out to the local community. We continue to pray that the Lord will bring the right people at the right time to join in our ministry here at Sakeji.
Beth Sheach and I took a trip all the way down to the capital, Lusaka, at the start of the break for some shopping and to spend some time off station. It was a 1,000 kilometer trip that involved lots of adventures, laughter, and gave us another good look at life in Zambia. Things like the noise of the city, the crazy drivers, the lorries overflowing with people, the constant hazards of chickens, pigs, goats, and pedestrians crossing the road suddenly, and the many people selling tomatoes and watermelons by the roadside are all little snapshots of this beautiful country. Lots of businesses and restaurants are coming up from South Africa as well as from overseas, so more and more things are becoming available in country. One of the malls, Manda Hill, was recently renovated into a two story structure with an escalator and two level car park that makes you forget for a moment that you aren’t in North America. Yet, even though it was fun to shop and enjoy the city, both Beth and I were very glad to return to our quiet bit of bush again. While it involves more long range planning and occasional inconvenience, I wouldn’t trade living in the bush for the city!
During the term break a Brass Tack’s team has been working on the new dining hall. After seeing the slab for so many months, it’s exciting to watch the walls go up and see the shape of the rooms inside. Part of the existing kitchen wall had to be knocked out so a new wall could be built, so we are laughing at ourselves for the nightly locking up of a building with a gapping hole in the side! The current team hopes to see the roof on and the inside walls plastered before they leave. Near the end of second term we will have some more teams coming up to carry on the work while the weather is still conducive to building.
As we continue through the year, we hope and pray that the students will learn and remember not only the three R’s, but also that they will come to know the Lord Jesus better and later go on to live a life that pleases Him. Thank you so much for all your support and prayers; you play an important part in our ministry here. May He find us faithful,