Tuesday, August 6, 2013

“God, Where Are You in All of This?”

You might be surprised to hear that all five of us at some time were asking God that question during our time in Macha. Each of us had a distinctly different volunteer role to fill at MICS and sometimes we overlapped with each other, got in each others way, even had a difference of opinion on what to do or how to do it. We’d love to say that we delicately and purposefully navigated well through those times, but to be honest we all showed our humanness more than once. Yep! It’s difficult to go and serve and love all at the same time. We were dependent upon God to live in us and speak to us each and every day. 

That was why your prayers and encouragement were so vital to us. Whether you shared with us how God was leading you to intercede on our behalf or kept it all to yourself, we felt your prayers.  So, thank you: for praying, for interceding, for sharing what God was saying to you & for encouraging us with truth; in that way you were a vital part of this work. We could not have made it through without your partnership.

The major projects that needed to be addressed were mostly contained in the new MICS 2 building. This project had been underway for a few years. At the time the construction was started the school was a part of the now defunct MachaWorks.  Without going into details, let’s just say that some of that work wasn’t done well. And the new apartment that Gil and Ronda had hoped to be occupying by now needed attention and renovation before they could move in. Once they make the move there will be an open apartment for another couple to come to Macha and assist them in running the school.

Big bathroom after!
Big bathroom before!

The major work was to rebuild the showers in the two bathrooms, and reinstall toilets and sinks so that they are usable. Mike is quite skilled in laying block or brick, pouring cement and laying tile. At the same time he mentored Dexter, the Krause’s maintenance man, in how to do those jobs. Dexter, an experienced electrician, was a willing student, and was left to put the finishing touches on those projects. Mike also spent some time on the school roof securing the metal roofing and fixing leaks. The rainy season will be coming up in a month or two, so this was pretty significant. Mike could be found every night eating dinner with the boarding students and became a big fan of nshima (corn meal).

Smaller bath prior.

Dennis was a wizard at making more than one closet functional with shelving and clothing bars. And at the same time he used scrap lumber to teach the boarding boys how to make wooden crosses. Dennis did much of the plumbing with the bathroom projects; both Dennis and Mike were able to fix a sewer problem and patch up some holes in a house that several of the teachers live in. The teachers were incredibly grateful to these guys who showed them love by making their homes more livable. Dennis took a real liking to the fresh baked buns that Joyce and the other cooks made for the students and teachers. If we didn't keep an eye on him, he'd eat our entire daily allotment all by himself!

Dennis with Joyce, the bun baker.

Miss LeeAnn teaches phonics to 1st graders.

LeeAnn was asked to step in and model how to teach phonics effectively and even made it fun for the first graders and their teachers. When she could, she helped Kathy manage the throngs of people that would congregate at the front door to ask for one thing or another. She was able to connect with many of the teachers that she’d known prior; as well as handing out discipline to unruly students. You would find both LeeAnn and Mike connecting with boarding staff and participating in evening devotions with the boarding kids each night.

Kathy helps 2 teachers, Chilala and Anastasia draw a dress pattern for their home ec class,
Kathy & Greg with the teachers at morning devotions.

Greg & Kathy were usually up and out the door before dawn. Together, with Misha on the leash, they walked the perimeter of the campus to pray for the day. Kathy’s work day started each morning with teacher devotions and prayer. Her main focus was working with the school staff to make sure everything ran as it should. There were countless problems each day that need to be addressed from tending who were sick, injured or misbehaving, making sure teachers and students had what they needed to do their jobs, to working with the boarding, cooking and cleaning  staff. .. And, then at the end of the day coming up with something to serve for dinner every night for our team! On top of that, she kept an eye on Misha throughout the day who needed just enough attention to stay happy  & satisfied (the dog, not Kathy!).

Coster and helpers work on a new welcome landscape project.
Greg helped Kathy run the school until the guys arrived. Then he helped with building projects by finding materials, mixing cement, getting Coster-the-groundsman what he needed, unlocking doors in the morning and locking them back up in the evening, taking sick kids home or to the hospital, taking cooks to the butcher or the mill and occasionally walking the dog.  Unfortunately he had to be the “buck-stops-here-guy” for the missing laptop debacle, but purposefully and skillfully brought resolution for all who were involved. He was the sole owner of the three large key rings for all the buildings, so he was quite the popular guy all day long!

End of term with entire school; students, teachers, support staff and us1
The last day of school included an all-school soccer skills competition with Push the Rock. Afterwards, each class presented song and recitation as a thank you to us and to PTR for sharing our lives with them for the time that we were there. Lots of hugs, hand written notes, drawn pictures and requests that we come back again.  It’s hard to turn down offers like that!

There's more photos below!

Bit by Bit, Dennis favorite place to shop in Choma! Couldn't keep this guy away!

Friends gave Dennis this chicken as a gift.
Joyce thinks Kathy should help prepare this bird! Yikes!

First graders enjoying morning tea break!

Mike brought Packer and Bucks hats for the kids.

Our kids, Wize, Elifer and Weston.

Shoe store in the local market.

Need a new suit? Macha market has those too!

Mike ate dinner with the boarding kids every night!

We've got lots more photos and stories to share! Visit our blog in a few days to see what other exciting things are happening!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Still Here!

Wednesday July 24, 2013

Dennis shows students where he comes from.
Greetings from Macha, and from MICS!

It has been way too long since we sent out any news. Honestly,there has been so much going on here that it was hard to take the time to figure out what to write about. We’ll try to include lots of photos so you can see what we doing, too.

We have had a run on sick or injured students lately. There is a virus moving its way around the boarding students particularly. We don’t think it is serious but more like the common cold and flu. Because the students live, study and play together the viruses are easily transferred. 

Teachers going to bridal shower.
We only have 1 ½ days of school left so we are hoping that the month long term break will cut off the spread of these germs. One student bumped his head and lost a front tooth, another had a wound become infected and we took him home so his mother could get him to the doctor and another student was hit by a car on his way home from school. He spent a few days in the hospital before being released to go home and recuperate. 

Mixing cement the Zambian way!
The big kitchen after sorting & organizing items from the container.
Mike pours the shower base.
The "mums" dance in laptop return celebration!

 While Kathy keeps the school running & meets with teachers and service staff, LeeAnn is teaching in the classroom each morning and helps keep boarding students busy and occupied in the afternoons, Greg runs errands, meets with community leaders, searches for and buys building materials, disciplines misbehavior, Dennis can be found running a skill saw or a drill and playing Frisbee golf, and Mike is busy laying block, brick or tile, replacing flooring and eating nshima with the kids at dinner. We try to eat one meal together each day but even that proves to be impossible on many days.
This week we have a soccer clinic with us. Push The Rock is a Christian based soccer camp that goes into schools to teach soccer technique and skills while sharing the gospel. This is incredibly fun for all! The teachers have told me that they are really “into it”; some said that they are surprisingly pretty good! The students have told me that this is making the week go by really fast. For some that’s a good thing but for others it’s rather disappointing.  Some of the children that are in boarding aren’t looking forward to going home. Our own sponsored children have been acting up, misbehaving, stealing others possessions and getting into fights.

Mike grouts the tile.
Here’s some of what we’ve been up to recently: tracking down student’s stolen items &
Dennis works on shelving.
administering discipline to offenders, reporting a missing classroom laptop to the police,
police investigate then hold our entire staff for 7 hours in jail, getting them released, have a prayer service for the return of the computer, computer is found early next morning at the base of the playground slide by two kindergarteners and an older brother. Then, welcoming our team, remodeling two bathrooms, installing closet shelving, giving out cough syrup and Panadol, bandaging wounds and pulling out slivers, breaking up fights. Fixing floorboards so teacher’s kids aren’t falling through, diverting drainwater away from the building, making crosses with the kids, walking the dog and keeping Dennis from eating all the fresh baked buns!

Every day we meet with the teaching staff for devotions and prayer for the day. And every day we join the student body for Chapel with singing praise and worship, reciting
1 Corinthians 13:1-8, praying and announcements.

PTR with the younger kids.
Working on dribbling.
"1, 2, 3, Push the Rock!"
Please pray for us; to finish crucial projects, put the campus in proper order, and close up buildings. Most days there is far more to do that we can get to or have energy for! So please remember us, that we’d be strengthened physically, personally and spiritually.

Standing together for the cause,
Kathy, Greg and the team

 If you made it this far in our post you get to see how the staff welcomed our team. This is the traditional Zambian welcome dance. They are singing in Tonga; saying "our visitors, our visitors, we welcome you!" You might even see someone dance that you'd never expect!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A New Spirit

We have been here for over a week already. Can that really be?  

The first few days we were in slow motion and our heads cloudy with jetlag.  But for the most part now, we are adjusted to the time and sleeping more; that in itself, has helped us to function much better. A huge thank you to all who have been praying and a special thanks to those who have sent us a note telling us what God has laid on your hearts to pray for us.  It’s difficult to tell you how much that means to us.

Mrs Grace insists on doing laundry by hand.
There is a new spirit here at MICS. There is a spirit of unity and friendship all around.   The teachers seem to enjoy their jobs and each other.  When one is sick or absent, the teachers work together to make sure that all the classes are covered and excelling. At last week’s soccer game against Lupata, they led  cheers, shouted, danced and ran up and down the field encouraging MICS players. It was as much fun to watch them as it was the MICS athletes. They have been most supportive and encouraging to us, as well. It’s a new day at MICS, and God seems to blessing this school.

By day we are running the school, assisting the needs of teachers and staff, overseeing the work of the maintenance man and the groundskeeper, keeping 2 cats and 1 dog fed and happy, AND we are the ones to intervene and settle disagreements & conflicts between the students.  We are thankful that so far we’ve not encountered anything serious enough to warrant an in-school suspension.

After school phonics video with boarding kids.
The boarding kids function much like family, attending school and living together  24/7. They form close attachments and can be seen enjoying each other. But as “siblings”, they at times also demonstrate some rather unwanted behaviors;  rivalries, jealousies, taking each other’s possessions, some taunting, tormenting and fighting at times. So far this has mostly been with the boys. So “Mr. Smith” finds himself reprimanding, coaching & mentoring, and encouraging on almost a continual basis.

 “Mrs. Smith” is the “buck stops here” person for the school and students.  On this campus, people really don’t have a problem asking for what they want. They know that the answer might be “no”, but they also know that they just might get what they want, too. So they come to the kitchen door and they ask… fortunately we have Mrs. Grace, the Krause’s house manager, who is able to give insight and advice to us. Just a few minutes ago, a second grader came asking for relief for a stomach ache, which is a common occurrence here. Mrs. Grace knew that this little girl comes everyday for a Tums. She was able to tell her that it isn’t a good idea to medicate this on a daily basis, and that she needs her parents to take her to the doctor. I (Kathy) then prayed for her and sent her back to class. Everyday, Mrs. Smith tells Mrs. Grace, “thank you for coming to work today; I don’t want to do this job without you!” And Mrs. Smith means it!

"Baby class (3/4 yr olds) take a snack break on the sidewalk.
So we’re getting in the groove! Each day is better and easier than the day before. We are getting to know some of the new teachers and staff, and are renewing relationships with those we’ve known from our previous visits.  We see the bigger picture for MICS in this community. One blog follower told us that she sensed God saying that “one day a president will emerge from Macha International Christian School.”  

 We believe that God is doing something that big here!

 Check out the videos below:
 The school is memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, LOVE, The Greatest Gift, hear them recite this passage together.

The 6th graders led us in praise and worship during chapel.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Totally God-dependent!

Kathy & Sue Bolthouse get the back seat for the flight to Macha
Today, Saturday July 6th, we can say,  “Now we are totally God-dependent”! You see for the past 2 days we have followed Gil and Ronda, and Sue Bolthouse around MICS getting a crash course on how to run a school in the Zambian bush! 

We’ve taken lots of notes, been introduced to many of the staff and students, looked at projects and tasks and now we begin the real work. We have no one to rely on but God; and we feel confident in that. God brought us here and He will see us through.

We arrived to an all-school reception with singing and flags waving!

MICS boys soccer team; jerseys compliments of St. Roses in Breese, IL.
"Divide" (#42) is congratulated for his game winning goal!
Ouch! Can't imagine playing barefoot! What could happen if we collected used cleats for the boys and girls of MICS?
Besides soccer, the girls played a game of net ball. Much like basketball but without the dribbling.
Whether soccer or net ball, when a goal is scored the spectators rush the field and dance in celebration!
Gil hands over the master set of keys to all the buildings.

Early this morning we took Joel & Sue Bolthouse and the Krauses’ to the airstrip for their departure. (Joel is our pilot, and Sue often comes to Macha to help the Krauses) The Bolthouses have gone back to their work in Lusaka at Flying Mission. The Krauses flew directly from Macha to Lusaka International Airport, then on to London and ultimately Chicago-Milwaukee. 

Bolthouses & Krauses wait for the first crack of dawn for take off!

On Tuesday the Krauses will begin receiving medical attention while resting & getting caught up with their family and friends. This is a badly needed time of rest and rejuvenation before they return to Macha in September to start the third and final term of the 2013 school year.

The suns peeks over the horizon and they're off!

Drove by the Macha police station.

This afternoon we took a ride around Macha before we were to pick up the boarding kids from choir practice at the church. 

We figured out which roads were the best choice; road conditions can change since they are not paved. 

Saw these two boys "driving" their cars down the road.

A huge thank you to all of you who have been praying for us, for the Krauses, and for the “spiritual climate” in Macha. A special thanks to those of you have let us know that you have been standing with us in prayer; especially those who have sensed times when we needed it in a powerful way in that moment and you were faithful to keep us covered. In keeping with our previous post, you are "paying attention" to God’s invitation to stand with us. You are "all ears", waiting for the slightest sound and responding immediately and seriously. We feel so honored that you would sacrifice yourselves and your time on our behalf.

Something really interesting to us has been watching God use our spiritual gifts (yours and ours collectively). On Sunday, while at Valleybrook Church, we had three different individuals speak a word of prophecy over us. One of those gave very vivid imagery. We have received confirmation of those messages. We have received messages from a few of you who have stated that God has placed us on your hearts and you are praying. Some even telling us that God woke you up to pray on our behalf. Again, thank you for partnering with us in such a vital way.

Now that we are off and running, we feel that we’ll be more consistent in updating what is happening here. We thought we’d post photos of what we’ve been up to, to give you a visual picture of our experiences.

Hitting the ground running,
Kathy & Greg