Saturday, February 2, 2008

Notes from Zambia....(this time from Mike)

31 JAN 2008

RAIN, that is the order of the day. It often rains in the morning, sometimes in the late evenings and at least once during the night. A meteorologist has a very easy job here in Zambia. There is a 100% chance of rain every day during the months of December and January. In February the daily chance of rain drops to 75%, to 60% in March and finally less than 40% in April. A very boring job July – October with less than a 1% chance of rain and sunny. There is about a 15 degree temperature change during any given day. When we wake up to 60 degrees we can plan on 75 by mid afternoon. 65 in the morning means 80 before we go to bed that night. In October we wake up to 82 degrees… you do the math. Temperature-wise spring is nice but only ducks and crocodiles enjoy this much rain.

STUCK IN THE MUD. With this much rain, traveling to the farm is a real challenge. Even the main road out of the city is beginning to suffer significant water damage and is growing new potholes every day. A 32 kilometer drive that takes about 25 minutes during the dry season can take up to an hour now in the rain. The first 31½ K’s are predictable but the last 500 meters is an adventure every day. Monday was the last day we will attempt to take the Canter (Mitsubishi 2 ½ ton flat bed, dual rear wheels) until the rains cease. There were ten of us pushing, in the mud and water, on level ground, to keep the vehicle moving forward. 20 minutes and 400 meters later we were at the road.
Tuesday we took delivery of a 1997 Nissan Hard body 4X4 quad cab, pick up truck, called a “van” here in Africa. (The vehicle we know as a minivan is referred to as a minibus here.) It is still an adventure getting to the building site but so far this week we have not needed to exit the vehicle to push.

BAREFOOT CAR WASH. You would be amused to see our vehicle once we have driven through the new land and arrive back on the main road after the day’s work. We stop along side the road and take advantage of the numerous small streams of rain water to rinse off the ‘van’. Often we just drive into the middle of the stream, take off shoes and socks, roll up the jeans and start splashing the vehicle. It is a humorous sight, grown men acting like schoolboys on their way home from school. (You know what I mean, if there is a puddle it is meant to be explored.) By the time we are on our way again, about 20 minutes, there is no evidence of our most recent adventure.

BART & MARILYN DAHNEKE. Imagine our surprise after returning to church with the Lusaka Branch after a 2 month absence only to find our friends from Palmyra NY in Zambia for an extended visit. They are here staying with their daughter Rachel who is married to a foreign services officer currently assigned to the U S Embassy here in Lusaka. The young couple is a powerful example to the Latter-day Saints in the Lusaka District.

ELECTRICITY has become a necessity for most of us and we have experienced a storm related power outage once in a great while. Now try and imagine living your life, preparing for the day, cooking, washing clothes, watching TV and never knowing when the power is going to go off or when it will magically reappear. We are living in Lusaka, the capitol city of Zambia, and it is a rare day that the power is not lost for a period of 15 minutes to as long as 10 hours. It can be very frustrating trying to do email or checking things out on the internet and have the power go out. Yes, our laptops have battery power but the internet connection is lost and sometimes takes hours to restore once the power has returned. Just one of the things we take for granted at home in the US!

LAUNDRY is a real challenge during the rainy season. Our clothes are all washed by hand wrung out by hand and hung up in the rain or 85% humidity to dry. After hanging all day everything, including underwear, is ironed with a hot iron to get dry enough to put away. It takes most of the day to complete this otherwise simple task. Our housekeeper, Catherine, will spend 6-7 hours doing 5 days worth of laundry. I do sympathize with the women in the villages and compounds who must walk, sometimes as far as a kilometer, to get water for drinking, cooking, bathing and laundry. I wonder how much water we would use if we were required to carry it even 50 feet from a well to our house. The thought of running water, inside our homes, that is suitable for drinking makes me grateful for this most basic necessity of life.

PAM’S COOKING and companionship makes living in a 3rd world country bearable if not enjoyable. It’s amazing how far out of our ‘comfort zone’ we can go when there is the familiarity of food and conversation at the end of the day. We are separated by days of travel from every thing dear and familiar to us. We are discovering that it is important to really get to know our ‘eternal companion’ better.

The news of PRESIDENT GORDON B HINKLEY reached us here in Zambia in less than 2 hours after his passing. The marvels of modern communication never ceases to amaze us. We were greatly influenced by his teachings and example of friendshipping. His vision of the Church’s expansion was remarkable. We are comforted in his joy in being reunited with his eternal companion.

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