church

Annan Old Parish

Church of Scotland

 
 

Missionary News

The Lunds – Zambia

September 2015

Difficult times are ahead for the Zambian nation; last season the rains were poor and the effects are being felt throughout the country. Within the region of Southern Africa, malnutrition is becoming pronounced due to severe food shortages. Only well­-managed relief programmes will sustain some communities through to next harvest. Low water levels also mean that electricity is in short supply; we are experiencing 8 hour power cuts daily. Some experts are predicting that there will be a total loss of supply from October until new rains recharge the river systems. The economy is also struggling with power rationing interrupting industry and world copper prices languishing. Mining operations and the companies that service them are beginning to slash their workforces as they move from active production to holding operations while they wait for profitability to be restored. As the consequences of these hardships take effect across the country, the churches will be key in helping the people to endure and maintain hope. It will be a time to see if the skills and training the leaders have are of benefit to the community in bad times as well as good.

There have been done staff changes at the university.  Within the library we are very happy to have an extra librarian Miss Ntawa Nakazwe. Marian has temporarily left us for the birth of her first child, a boy, and is due back from maternity leave in January 2016. We were also pleased to welcome back Dr Sidney Cooper, a mission partner from Sierra Leone who last taught in the university in 2005. Since his arrival Sidney has been spearheading the effort of having the institution recognised as a fully­-fledged university with the Zambian government. He is also overseeing the implementation of systems to improve the quality and quantity of research output from the institution. It will be great if these initiatives come to fruition because many such moves fail between conception and realisation.

In August the university was host to an international conference on gender and development. Over two days, local and international leaders and academics presented their perspectives on the core theme from an inter­ disciplinary perspective. Some of the central concerns to emerge were: the short-­comings of Western-­style development, the inaccuracy of blanket negativity towards traditional cultural practice and the continued need to put women and children at the forefront of developmental change. This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to participate in a world-­class academic event. All the papers should soon be accessible on the university’s domain.

  Presently most of the theology lecturers are busy delivering their courses to the distance students. This generally involves teaching a semester worth of lessons intensively over three days. To make things easier I uploaded my course materials and recordings of my lectures onto the college domain then arranged for the students to access them. Distance students could then be up­to­date on their lectures, reading and assignment work before arriving at the university. Unfortunately the students failed to make use of these resources thus my distance classes have turned out to be just as intensive as normal. Hopefully, as students and staff become more familiar with the opportunities available for e­-learning at the university, this will become a thing of the past.

 At the beginning of July I was in Lusaka preaching again at Busokololo congregation for University Sunday. The congregation is one of the largest in the country with over 3000 members and the two services took over 5 hours to complete. This year I taught on the theme of charismatic worship, a subject on which there is much misunderstanding in modern African Christianity. Last year the university staff wrote revised guidelines for charismatic worship within the UCZ so I took the opportunity to communicate more of the detail underpinning that statement. The ongoing strength and depth of the ministry there is evident from the fact that 20% of our current first year students come from this congregation.

 July to September involved a lot of form-­filling, running around and expense; all our British and Australian passports came up for renewal. Wendy handled the bulk of the task but even with meticulous preparations the process did not run smoothly. Thankfully we managed to overcome the various difficulties that arose and now we all have fresh passports valid till 2020 and beyond. Unfortunately the timing of the Lusaka trip to send off our Australian passports meant that I missed this year’s evangelism campaign which was held in some of the neighbourhoods around Kitwe.

We were delighted to have a visit from Wendy’s younger sister, Sally, our niece Bethan and her friend Max during university study break in August. We had plenty of conversations about our various lives and ministries. They were also able to personally experience the places, bustle, smells, noise, activities and personalities that we live with daily. To make sure that they also had the African bush experience we spent two days at Nsobe game park, at the Fisherman’s [sic] Lodge. This was delightful and refreshing with fishing on our doorstep and time to relax together away from regular chores and distractions. On our second afternoon we had a fantastic game drive where we spotted virtually the entire park’s population of zebra and giraffes in one location. One male giraffe was so calm we were able to Get close enough to include him in a series of family photos.

School holidays have finished with Julu and Talitha away once more. Taliesin has restarted his IGCSE studies at home while Mutinta and Kathleen are back to their daily routine of exercise and learning. Kathleen’s epilepsy has slowly become more active so we have been adjusting her medication to try to gain better control in the lead up to our departure. At Chengelo Julu went straight into his mock exams and will be sitting his Cambridge international A level exams in October and November. He has also been putting his British university applications in order. His frontline choices to study maths and statistics are: Warwick, Cambridge, St Andrews and Bath.

Caroline and her family are also facing uncertain times. Their landlord has put their rent up, making it more difficult for them to stay put. Caroline’s husband, Crispin, works as a driver for a mining company; his job is suddenly uncertain and the prospect of moving into their own home is still far off. Some progress has been made towards building a boys’ quarters on their plot, where some of the family could start living. Theft, organisational challenges and unreliable builders and budgets have left the family without further building funds, with only the foundation complete. The family resolutely makes plans about how they will take a new approach for the next stage of the project but better project management is still developing.

Our current contract ends in February 2016. Despite being graciously urged to renew we took a family decision to stay longer in the UK. We have family matters to attend to. Our plans are to return to Zambian ministry a few years hence but with a substantially reduced contingent as it is likely three of the children will have left home by then. When we hop on our flight in early December it will be with mixed feelings. Although we are ready to be away from the intensity of working at the university and the challenges of living in Kitwe for a while, we will miss our students, friends and the vital yet interesting work in which we have been involved. The loss of Wendy’s music teaching, my ICT and library contributions and Kathleen’s cheerful presence in the library will be particularly felt.

Once again this year the fantastic efforts of the presbytery folks in Annandale and Eskdale and Lochaber have successfully raised funds to purchase reference libraries for the newly licenced ministers. (This time 15!) The sets that were purchased and sent last year are in eager use, are benefitting rural congregations and are very much appreciated. There should be just enough time before we depart to receive this year’s consignment books and arrange for distribution. Yay!

June 2014

While Glen collected the two Ts from their school last weekend, a friend and I joined students and staff for the closing chapel of the semester. I sat there, heart beating fast, stomach churning while hearing of the amazing changes that are soon to take place at college. We closed term with fewer than 60 students and a week after they return our ranks will swell with 150-200 more students, eager to join the School of Education and Humanities at this new University. I do admire people with great vision! With the students will come some new staff and, gradually, more infrastructure. In the meantime the principal with good cheer, amid gales of laughter, urged the theology and diakonal students to share the facilities and to look after their new flock. The next four weeks, now we have finished marking exams and arranging marks, will be a hive of activity. Glen, being on management, will be busy. One of his tasks is ordering many, many books. The semester was an extremely steep learning curve for me. I truly enjoyed it – who could not with such eager, caring students and supportive staff. The first years took a while to tune in to my accent! UCZUC Principal: Rev Kondolo I have been thrilled also to collect more violin students, mostly home in Zambia for their long holidays from India (boarding school), but also another who travels from Ndola once a week. She’s keen. I love it! Julu, Taliesin and Talitha had a break between terms in April/May. Their four week breaks are staggered and Julu’s was also curtailed so we took leave from college to make a dash to meet Glen’s brother in Namibia. We can’t say we’ve really seen Namibia though. If you look at a map, there’s a finger of land which leaves the bulk of the country behind and goes up to meet the Zambian border at the Zambezi river, now called the Zambezi strip. We met and were treated by Tony on the Zambezi at a fishing lodge; we were able to catch a few tigers (see photo). It is a beautiful spot on the river, now in full flow. On the long drive (1068km) we played the counting game.

Here’s a taster: 25 police and traffic halts for checks and exchange of greetings, 3 purple cars but 14 carts pulled by yokes of oxen or donkeys (mainly on the Livingstone to Sesheke stretch), 20 ABNORMALE/S on the Kitwe to Lusaka road and only 2 between Lusaka and Sesheke. Why? The bulk of the mines are in the Copperbelt region where we live and ABNORMALE/S are the huge vehicles and equipment that are transported, enveloped by flashing-light pick- ups. We encountered 9 broken down trucks which used the proper warning triangles but a whopping 16 using the more common “warning” branches: rather alarming to encounter in the pre-dawn light. Road side sellers counted in at 167, but that is a VERY conservative number – most were huge sacks of charcoal but also tomatoes and water melons. Sights of special interest included elephants, a couple of rusting traction engines and the spectacular sky bound plume of spray from The Smoke That Thunders (Mosi O Tunya, aka Victoria Falls). The volume of water is so great this year that you can see the spray from kilometres away. We are meeting up with the Albino Foundation board on Sunday: to catch up on their news, hopes and plans. There are some beautiful hats and literature to pass on for their work. Kathleen’s friend, inspiration and helper, Mutinta is one of Caroline’s first charges as an orphan. With her help and the advice of a marvellous physiotherapist, Kathleen is becoming much stronger. Mutinta also loves to sing and it is a happy event to hear the two of them hammering away at the piano and singing at the tops of their voices. We are full of thankfulness that K’s seizures have abated with a new tack on the medication. We’re off to visit Caroline and some of the kids on Friday to present some excellent wooden puzzles that were sent from Scotland, and I’ll get an update on how the school- supported kids are getting on. The puzzles will be well used and well looked after in that household.

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February 2014

The seasonal rains started late but they have been bucketing down with vengeance ever since. As I write, I can hear pounding on the roof and a steady gush of water past our house. The surrounds are lush; our tomatoes are thriving but it makes it hard to get things dry and everything feels damp. Before the rains arrived the water situation on campus became precarious as the M.E.F. reservoir virtually dried up for the first time in 8 years. Through careful management the M.E.F. workers kept the water flowing until fresh supplies began to run in. Our household water became a deep brown colour as it flowed sluggishly from the tap.

In the few months since we returned to college much has happened. The facilities are sparkling thanks to the hard working new cleaners. Since Rev. Sikazwe has been promoted to become synod communications officer, I have been re­appointed to the task of supervising the library. The Sikazwes, who were good neighbours to us, have now moved to join Dennis in Lusaka and we miss them. My colleague, Rev. Sinyama, and his family are now our immediate neighbours.

As part of its evolution into a university, the college has big plans for the library and computing. I am overseeing it. I’m delighted that we have been able to employ a professional librarian one day a week, while we are in the process of recruiting a full time one, and the library has been greatly uplifted as a result. Various other initiatives are gaining momentum as new management and resource allocation takes hold.

Since the second week in January, Wendy was invited to teach the academic English programme. Academic English is vital because it teaches the skills that are foundational to the rest of their studies. I have noticed how the students have become more quickly interactive and questioning than they usually are by this point in their studies. She is enjoying the challenge very much, and is pleased to be involved with the students and staff.

It is exciting to see the size of the student body, which is over sixty students in all. Lessons are progressing smoothly but the students have reached the point in semester when the heavy study load and tiredness is affecting them. The twenty ­two first year students are struggling to maintain their equilibrium as they try to complete their assignments and continue their reading and field work amid the vagaries of Kitwe’s electricity supply. Several of our higher level students are facing difficulties of a financial kind as their personal reserves are finished and their sponsorship bases have dried up. Some well­wishers find it hard to maintain their initial eagerness and generosity throughout the three or more years of a minister’s training.

Another change for us has been the departure of three of the children for boarding school. The house is strangely quiet. Julu was looking lean and muscular after just four weeks of physically active school life. He has thrown himself into life at Chengelo with enthusiasm and is enjoying it mightily. To date he has been getting excellent results but has found the heavy schedule demanding. The other morning he fell asleep during a pre­9:00 am study session and nearly missed his next class! He has registered to undertake the Duke of Edinburgh Gold award. He would Tbe doing most of the weekly activities that this entails so he decided to add a few more and get recognition for his achievements.

Tsunami and Taliesin are coping fairly well at school.

We admire Taliesin who was not keen on the idea of going to school but has manfully applied himself to it. Come early Monday morning, he begins to show his reluctance but during the week he usually sounds quite cheerful when we phone them up. Within the first few weeks some of Tsunami’s talents were identified and utilised. She was given six basic piano students to teach and was enlisted to write two skits for the first school family service. The skits were one of the highlights of the service.

They are getting plenty of exercise with cross­ country, swimming etc.. Like Julu’s school, Amano has a gruelling schedule. By the weekend they are pretty tired. Taliesin has been enjoying the sciences, maths and scripture lessons. Talitha likes many of her subjects except maths (formal), music and social studies. Taliesin had to catch up with his class­mates in French who started their studies last year; he’s coping well.

Earlier this month we made a two day trip to Lusaka to collect our employment visas and see a specialist about Kathleen’s medication. She had a whale of a time on her birthday on Saturday 22/2. She was so excited to see Julu home. We ordered a DVD of the musical Oliver! and she was disappointed it hadn’t arrived on time.  It has arrived now and she is delighted.

She had great fun making a story photo booklet with Wendy, narrating an adventure of her dollies; Taliesin made another for her birthday. She is benefiting from the extra input of being the only child in the home classroom. Caroline’s first orphan, who has just completed secondary school, has also been playing with her. We will explore this idea further to see if Mutinta can be developed as an educational assistant for Kathleen.

At our community church in the Anglican chapel, we were sorry to say farewell to the Mensas from Ghana after a precious couple of years appreciating their presence and spirit while they directed MEF. The church takes a part amongst the eager supporters of our friend Caroline’s work with orphans. To the family’s credit, all 19 of the orphans passed their school grades for 2013. Thanks to support, all their fees were covered for last year. Julu and I visited them in January to meet them all and take some photographs. They hope to soon purchase a plot of land, to begin building a house in order to provide sufficient space to cover the requirements of registration.

Members from the Albino Foundation have been requested to send representatives to many different official events which is great to raise awareness, to educate and to be accepted as a visible part of community. Literature sent from the West Australian Cancer Council has helped to increase self care and some of the members have been to skin clinics for check ups. At the end of last year, board representatives went to the AGM of the umbrella organisation in Lusaka to exchange news and ideas. The newly elected local board are planning to visit new communities with starter packs of sunglasses, long sleeve shirts, hats and sunscreen. An added benefit of the organisation is that the members become a kind of family support. Some albinos have wonderful, supportive families. Others face ridicule and rejection all their lives.