We all have 12 month multiple entry visas, which apparently means we are able to come to country as many times as we want in a year, but we can only stay for 30 days at a time. We can apply for an extension that will let us stay for 90 days, but we still must leave the country after that. Thankfully, we live only an hour and a half away from the Zambian border.
The drive to Zambia was very nice, with the only exception being the border crossing. However, after fending off all the moneychangers, we finally made it to Zambia! We arrived at a nice little hostel, had dinner, and went to bed. The hostel was on beautiful grounds, had a campsite, and a shower that hosted my first warm shower since moving here (yay!). It was interesting talking to the hostel owners. They were Italians who were born in Mozambique and spent most of their lives going between Mosambique, Zambia, Malawi, and Italy.
Our second full day in Zambia we had to opportunity to go to Filius Jere’s house and then to the new church hall. At Filius’s house he showed us pamphlets he translated into Nyanja. Besides using his radio station to broadcast Beyond Today episodes, he also works on translating UCG’s booklets into Nyanja for members and guests to easily read. I was quite inspired by that and want to find a way to translate the booklets into Chichewa so our brethren here who don’t speak English can access the booklets as well. The church hall in Chipata was fantastic! It’s not big, but it will seat around 100 people (most people sit on the ground, not in chairs, so it’s easier to fit more) and behind the building there’s an outdoor kitchen area where we talked with women who were preparing tobwa, the maize drink I talked about in my previous blog. Similar to Malawi, maize is grown everywhere. Wherever there’s an open spot of land, there’s maize. The church hall was surrounded on three sides by maize, groundnuts (peanuts), okra, and pigeon peas (lentils) that were tended to by the members. Filius told us how they organically fertalize the fields with compost and a special plant. The results were amazing! The maize ears were bigger than ones that had been treated with chemical fertilizer. I loved seeing how involved the members were with everything. The congregation’s youth and a few adults built the hall themselves. It was so inspiring to see a family that God had grown together in just two years.
We didn’t know until arriving, but the Sabbath we spent there was the first time they had ever used the hall. There was a great celebration that included dedications and thanks, personal speeches about how different individuals were called, skits about keeping the Sabbath, a youth rap on the 10 commandments, a question and answer session, and, of course, food and tobwa. Filius had invited the land’s previous owner to services and the dedication where she was given a seat of honor and two live chickens. The members lovingly gave Lewis, Lena, Brennan, and me two doves that we named Peggy and Lil’ Nugs. Brennan got to experience, for the first time, what it’s like to speak while using a translator! When we were introduced to the congregation, we were introduced as “our brethren from Malawi” or “the Malawian brethren,” which I found pretty funny. The day as a whole was just amazing.The next day we drove home and reminisced about our time there. I was so inspired by the community God built. How can we bring that back home with us?