November 12th, 2009
Machomo Bwanji! Hello!
To my dear friends and family! I hope that you are all doing well and that this year has been full of blessings and fun for each and every one of you. God is faithful and overflowing with blessings for us and I am excited to share with you how He has blessed me this past year.
2009 has definitely been full of adventures for me, starting in January where I ventured to Asia to travel around with my friend, Megan, on her winter break from teaching. We started our trip off in Thailand exploring Bangkok and Ayutthaya, places full of old and new temples and Buddhas, great food, and great sights. This is a picture of a Buddha head at the ruins of Ayutthaya. It was probably 5 feet high to give you some perspective.
From Thailand we flew in to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) for the Vietnamese New Year celebration, the Tet Festival. It so amazing to celebrate the new year in a such a joyous way, and in such a warm place. I am so used to sweaters, jackets, and scarves that it was a nice change to wear a tank top and capris! From Saigon we flew to Hanoi for more celebrations and great pho, before heading out to Halong Bay, an archipelago near the Chinese border and then to Sa Pa, a remote but touristy mountain village. This picture was taking in Hanoi of one of the many decorations in place for the New Year.
After Vietnam, we stopped for few days in Shantou, China the city where Megan is teaching English. I had a great time eating hot pot, drinking bubble tea and doing short hikes up to the area’s best temples. From there, we ventured to Hong Kong where Megan was able to satisfy her need for all foods that weren’t Asian-mainly American food (Starbucks and California Pizza Kitchen) and Indian food. The weather was great and we had amazing views across the harbor and the light show at night was great. The picture below is Megan and I having formal tea at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong.
The next trip I took was to Hawaii, with my friend Alicia in March. The picture above is us on the North Shore of Oahu. The weather was great, the food and drinks amazing and I had a great time with Alicia.
May brought more adventures for me as I returned to Zambia for my third trip there. There was a group of 15 of us this time, and we spent time demolishing and rebuilding an addition, playing with babies and venturing out with the social workers.
Each of these experiences was unique and thought provoking, and we all had a great time. Here I am my buddy, Emmanuel after we gave the kids bags filled with goodies for them.
Since then I have stuck close to home, doing a lot of hiking during the summer and now running and hot yoga as the weather has cooled. I also completed my first half marathon and am training for my second. My sister also had her second child, Noah, and I have been down to Vancouver to spend a lot of time with her.
Soooooo…you ask: Where are you going next?
The coming year is going to be bringing some *BIG* changes for me. At the end of January I will be packing my stuff and heading back to Zambia for 5 months. Yes, that’s right 5 WHOLE MONTHS! I initially wanted to be gone even longer but I think 5 months is going to be the perfect length of time for this trip. I have been granted a leave of absence from work, have reserved my plane tickets, and am planning on subletting my apartment while I am gone (HINT! HINT! If you know of anyone needing temporary housing come talk to me!)
And now you ask: What will you be doing there?
Good question! I will be volunteering with two organizations while I am there. The first one is well known to me and I have volunteered with them on my previous trips to Zambia. Alliance for Children Everywhere/Christian Alliance for Children in Zambia is a Christian organization in the capital city of Lusaka. They run 3 crisis nurseries, many primary and secondary schools, and provide milk and medicine to sick and impoverished families in Lusaka’s poorest compounds. While in Zambia I will be living in one of the crisis nurseries. Discussions are underway to help me determine all that I will be doing for ACE/CACZ. If you would like to learn more about this organization, their website is www.childreneverywhere.org.
The second organization I will be volunteering with is called Tiny Tim and Friends (TTAF). This is a medically based organization run by an American doctor in Lusaka that provides medical care to sick and impoverished families in Lusaka’s compounds, runs orphanages and schools, and provides medications to families and children with HIV. I am planning on working in the medical clinic two days a week at this time and have to opportunity to also help with medication compliance, data entry, and other clinic duties. Their website is www.tinytimandfriends.org.
And now you ask: How can I help?
First and foremost, I want to thank each and every one of you who has been willing to listen to me talk about Zambia, what this place means to me, and why I go there. When I was in Zambia last May, I felt that God was strongly calling me to return to Zambia for an extended period of time. And since this time He has continually provided me with the desire, the means, and the support to return, and we must first recognize that this is all thanks to God. I also want to thank every one who helped contribute flip flops, money, and prayers to my trip in May. The kids were overjoyed to have new shoes, underwear, books, and toys. Here are some photos of the children after we handed these goodies out.
There are many ways that you can get involved in what I am doing. First, and it goes without saying, I need lots and lots of prayers! I can not do this on my own and your support through prayer and encouragement would mean so much to me. It is kind of scary leaving for that long but it helps knowing that I am supported. Specifically I need prayer in these areas: 1) Continued direction and guidance on the work that I am supposed to do for both ACE and TTAF, 2) Prayer that I connect with the men and women I will be working with, and that I will be welcomed into this community, 3) Prayer that any remaining logistics such as visas, airlines, budget etc. are with out problems and hang ups 4) Prayer that God will provide all that I need from health to finances to relationships and experiences.
The second way that you can be involved with what I am doing is through financial support. I will be taking a leave of absence from work to go to Zambia, and could use your help paying the bills. My tentative budget puts my total expenses around $4000-5000 for 5 months. This includes airfare, insurance, room and board, visa fees, transportation, and internet access. If you have extra resources and would like to help, please contact me directly and I will give the details on how to do so. If you also feel called to support either organization I am working with, you can donate directly on their websites. I will also be taking a small amount of supplies/donations with me when I go and if you would like to donate goods or funds to fill the bags, let me know.
The last thing I need is to find someone to sublet my apartment while I am gone. It will be available from January through and will come fully furnished. It is a one bedroom apartment on the north end of Green Lake across the street from Bethany Community Church. If you, or anyone you know is looking for temporary housing let me know. I am looking for a responsible, clean person or married couple to stay in my home. Rent and length of stay are negotiable depending on length of stay and other factors.
And how can we contact you while you are gone?
I will have the internet while I am there so email, Facebook and Skype chats are available. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you while I am gone and keep updated on the fun things that are happening here at home. If you are interested in reading about my day to day activities while I am in Lusaka then please feel free to visit my blog, www.IdreamedofZambia.blogspot.com. It is still in the early stages of construction, but it will be fully functional by the time I leave in January.
Thank you, thank you, and thank you again for all of your support and encouragement. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you upon my return!
With lots of love, excitement, and joy,