Saturday, January 9, 2010

Had a Difficult Day?

If you're tempted to focus more on the negative aspects of your day, instead of your blessings, read this letter from a missionary in Zambia
Lozi Tribe Update, January 7, 2010

Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

Dear family and friends,
After several weeks of silence, it is high time for an update, and there is exciting news to share. But first I must explain my strange choice for an introductory verse.

Last Saturday we were driving back to camp from the build site. Our families had spent the day on the lodge grounds with the Johnsons. We got a text message that they were watching a large snake in a tree, so we hurried to take a look. Sure enough, high in a tree near one of the tents (where we’ll be sleeping for the next month looking after the lodge for the Johnsons while they vacation in South Africa) was a big snake. A few well-placed shots from Gavin Johnson with a high-powered pellet rifle paralyzed the snake and it fell to the ground. Two more shots finished it off. It was a 2.5 meter long (8 feet) black mamba, the most deadly snake in Africa. Also that day, the staff killed a stiletto snake in the lounge and my daughter, Alicia, saw what may have been a spitting cobra near the lounge where all our kids were playing. 3 venomous snakes in one day. Granted, that is extremely rare, and I don’t tell this to be dramatic. But in case you haven’t prayed for our safety lately, this would be a good reminder. We grow more and more comfortable here, but there are occasional reminders that we live in constant potential danger from crocs, hippos (our friend Vincent’s brother was recently attacked by a hippo and nearly lost his arm), hyenas (their tracks are on the lodge road), leopards, and snakes (recently some men clearing brush from our land were chased out of a rock formation by a spitting cobra).

Our greatest challenge many days is just driving from our camp to the build site and back. As we reach the mid-point of the rainy season, Shannon and I are earning our 4×4 badge (thanks for the lessons Sidney!). We’ve only had to use the winches twice. Our appreciation for the vehicles God gave us grows as the mud holes deepen.

OK, now let’s get to the good stuff. In early December, because of our trip to Lusaka to get the water pump, we were gone from the villages for almost 2 weeks. When we returned, Vincent had exciting news. He said that some people from a few of the sub-villages had been talking about the Sunday meeting that we’ve been trying to start (hit-and-miss) for a couple of months. They asked Vincent, “Do we have to wait for the Reeces to be here? Even if they are not here to teach us, can’t we at least meet each Sunday to pray?” In addition to that, Dom and Vincent went (without consulting us) and chose a meeting site and cleared it. The site is under a large shade tree beside the river, and appropriately, is not far from where we first camped in our early trips with the South Africans. This past Sunday felt very historic - we met for the first time at the time and place that THEY CHOSE without our help. It was a small group - our 2 families, 4-5 Lozi women, and 3 men. But the Lord loves humble beginnings. Christ WILL build His church among the Lozi, and He doesn’t need our help to do it. But what a privilege to be included!

Along with the church-planting work, there is also progress in the construction work. The roof of our camp shelter is finally framed up, and thatching begins next week (Lord-willing). Then begins the challenging work of installing the solar water pump, storage tanks, and running water and septic lines. Are there any plumbers who could be here in two weeks? Shannon and I are encouraged to finally feel some progress.

Our wives are encouraged by the thought of looking after Mutemwa Lodge for the Johnsons for the next month. The last 3 months of tent-camping (2 of those months in the rain) have been rough on our wives, but they have earned the title “hard-core” from some of our Southern Baptist missionary friends. At the “lodge” we’ll still be sleeping in tents, but in real beds. And they’ll have electricity from a generator for 3 hours a day, and a small pool for the kids, and comfortable furniture in a semi-enclosed lounge area, and hot showers without building a fire (thanks to on-demand propane heaters), and battery-powered lights at night. All in all, it will be a nice break to help get us over the hump until water and septic are operational on our land. Words can’t express our gratitude to the Johnson family. They are fast becoming dear friends, and we enjoy many hours of sweet Christian fellowship. Penny sympathizes with our wives, and Shannon and I are learning from Gavin’s strong and simple faith in his Heavenly Father. Their hospitality was a great help with our homesickness during the Christmas season. We praise God for His grace in sustaining us through our first Christmas away from home. Thanks to all of you who sent encouraging emails or packages, and remembered us in your prayers.

Grace and peace to you all in this coming year. May you be blessed with ever-increasing views of Christ’s glory.

Kept by Him,
Lori again. In conclusion, if you haven't found an 8 foot long black mamba snake hanging over the place you sleep, count it a good day!

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