Thursday, November 15, 2012

Now That We Are Back Home . . .

Thursday, November 15, 2012                           (See lots of photos and stories below!)

Back in May, God made it clear that Dan Green and I were to go to Africa together. At that time, that was the only thing we knew.

I continued to ask God about the details well into summer, but He was silent. Then as the summer began to wind down some things started to unfold in Macha, and I began feeling the pressure that Gil and Ronda were under.  It started to become clearer what God had planned for us. 

Our number one assignment was to stand with Gil and Ronda, and number two was to
finish the MICS 2 building so it could be ready for January, the start of the new school year.

God had prepared us for Macha and Macha for us.  I was in awe of God with the timing of our arrival. We didn’t arrive too late, we didn’t arrive too early; we arrive right on time.  God was in the details, too. 

After we’d arrived in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, we spent half the day shopping hardware stores and open markets to find items and plumbing parts that we anticipated that we would need. We purchased parts that we had never seen before in the States but it seemed that we might need them. Sure enough, we used every part that we’d bought.

Another evidence of God’s providence was how easy some of the projects actually were. The things that should have been hard, we were able to complete with ease; they came off without a hitch. Which was really great because we had far more to do than we could humanly accomplish in the time that we had. We finished every project that we planned to do.

Typically, the weather should have been extremely hot. Dan was concerned about how he would be able to work in those conditions. But the temps cooled down some just before we arrived and stay that way until it was time for us to return home. Dan said God even changed the weather for him. 

The two main objectives: encouraging the Krauses and finishing MICS 2 were accomplished. More than that, God answered Gil and Ronda’s prayer for help. 

I see that God’s love for us runs very deep. God brought Greg Krause, Dan Green, and me half way around the world because He loves Gil and Ronda that much. That impacted me deeply. God is so in love with us that He only has His very best for us all the time. I feel so honored and blessed that God used me. Of all the people in the world, many that are probably more qualified than I am, God chose me. In my mind I don’t deserve that kind of treatment, but when we belong to God and obey what He asks from us He may just invite us into some crazy adventures! 

Coming home to Wisconsin didn’t end the work God had planned. One of the projects still in the works is a TV spot to air in Zambia promoting MICS. I am working with Chad, our senior producer at Discover Wisconsin, to develop the spot. We will also develop one to air in the states for sponsorship of kids to attend the school that are orphans. If you are interested in that let me know. 

What is next? I don’t know!! What I do know is this, I don’t have to worry, or make any plans.  God devises the plans, He executes the plans and He invites just the right ones to join Him in seeing His plans accomplished. Once again, I am waiting and trusting that He will show me what else He has planned for me. When He does, I will say “yes, Lord”.

With sincere gratitude for your partnership, it is priceless.
Greg, with Dan

Below are some stories that I haven't yet shared along with their photos:

The day before we were to fly back to Lusaka, then back home, we walked through the bush to visit our kids. We sponsor (l-r) Weston, Wize and Elifer's schooling, while some of you have graciously stepped up to support their boarding expenses. A couple of months ago, we became aware that the grass hut and temporary tent that their grandparents live in were falling apart. We offered to supply the funds to build a brick house. I went to inspect the new project to see if it was ready for the metal sheeting that serve as roofing, which it was and gave them the go-ahead to order the materials. When the kids saw me approaching they came running! They were all over me; this is fairly new behavior and indicates just some of the growth and development they've each experienced since coming to MICS. I was very encouraged.

During our last week in Macha, I knew I needed to go find my friend Tolland. Tolland had been out of school this term so that he could have his leg amputated. He has been recovering at his grandmother's. Tolland and I had been through a lot together last year, he had made a promise to me that he would change his rebellious behaviors so that God could mold him into the leader he knew he should be. I needed to connect with him, let him know that I had not forgotten him and encourage him to continue to make good choices.

This is the bedroom that Dan and I shared. Since the boys have moved into the new building, Gil & Ronda put us up in one of the former dorm rooms. Each night we slept under mosquito netting. Because the buildings are made of brick and concrete, they stay cooler than other materials.

Guillermo is our Flying Mission bush pilot. He and his family have been living in Macha, just across from the school. They are soon to be moving to Lusaka to live at the FM base.

Here is Dan fiddling with the controls...actually I think its just the GPS, ... PHEW!

We made it back to Lusaka with Guillermo and helped to push our plane into the hangar. You don't get to do that when you fly commercial!

While in Lusaka and before heading to the international airport, Joel and Sue Bolthouse treated us to another delicacy; grilled impala! You might remember that previously they had prepared marinated crocodile tail for us. We've known this family for many years, in fact Sue was LeeAnn's first grade teacher. (Ronda Krause was Tara's kindergarten teacher, too!) Let that be a warning! Once you make friends with us we won't let you go easily! We'll chase you halfway around the world!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

One More Day to Go

Thursday, November  1, 2012

This was the last of the plumbing fixtures to unclog!

I wanted to take this time to send out an update now because our time here is coming to a rapid end. We have one more day to complete the work at hand. 

Since our return from Livingstone, we’ve been working at a crazy pace to bring closure to our projects.  If we don’t run into any snags tomorrow we should be able to do just that. 

On Wednesday, I left Dan to the plumbing projects while I took the video camera around and recorded footage of classrooms, students, teachers, lunchtime, computer labs, the playground and more. I will be taking what I have captured to my incredibly creative co-workers at DiscoverWisconsin Television for them to do their magic. When we have the finished products, we’ll then put commercials on Zambian radio and television promoting openings at MICS for the next school term which begins later in January.

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, the plumbing fixtures had not been covered up so they were filled with dust and dirt. When the wind blows here in Zambia, it gets in places you’d never imagine. Since the work on MICS 2 had been postponed for almost a year a lot of dirt and grime had accumulated. We’ve been working to clear all sinks, toilets and shower bases, and get water flowing & draining. 

Above photos: This is the new borehole (well) that is providing water to the school and dorms. Henry started by laying brick and then cementing over them. You can see by the photo on the left that Henry is a craftsman, and is doing a great job.
This is Beverly, the woodworker.
There are others working hard and long days with us. These are the workers that were hired for specific jobs. The Valleybrook offering is being used to pay their wages. See their photos at right.

Tomorrow after school is out,  I plan to walk our sponsored kids back to their grandparent’s home. A few months ago, Kathy & I sent money to the grandparents to buy bricks to build a larger and more secure home. They had been trying to share a small, round, grass-roofed hut, and a tent, neither was adequate or secure. (You might remember that their hut had been broken into last year, and many of the items we brought for the kids were stolen.) I want to see the structure for myself and connect with the kid's grandparents, too. We want to let them know that we plan to continue to support Weston, Wize and Elifer for the next year.

Coster is burying the water mains; he was formerly the schools gardener.
I also plan to drive into the village to check up on a student that has been out this term due to surgery to amputate a leg. I had connected closely with Tolland last year, and I need to see him and tell him that I still love him and believe that he can do something significant with his life if he chooses to follow God.

Then there is another student that Kathy had connected with last year, and she has sent along a gift for him; a book of some of the fascinating characters in the Bible. He wants to become a missionary and tell others about Christ. We want him to know that we believe in him, too.

Several are painting inside and out.
Sometime on Saturday we will climb into the bush plane for a ride back to the Flying Mission base, outside of Lusaka. Later on Saturday evening, our friends at Flying Mission, Joel and Sue Bolthouse, will take us to the international airport to fly home.

We have had a very full and incredibly God-filled two weeks  here in Zambia. We are tired, but it’s a good tired. As we think about our time here, we feel very grateful …grateful first to God for showing us what we need to see and know when the time was just right…grateful for how He is bringing good things out of what at first seemed to be bad…grateful  for you, for your friendship and support for us and to MICS. 

Here I am filming in one of the boy's dorm rooms.
This work in Macha needs lots of people to be involved in so many ways.  Please keep praying for the work here. Pray that God would send workers to match the needs, especially as new students enroll for the next term. Ask God how you can support MICS in new and greater ways.

Greg, and Dan

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Field Trip to Livingstone

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It is Tuesday evening here in Macha Zambia. We have spent a couple of full days in Livingstone combining a bit of sightseeing along with shopping for plumbing and building supplies.

We arrived in Livingstone in the late afternoon on Sunday. After checking into the Jolly Boys Backpacker Lodge we drove to “the bridge” that separates Zambia from Zimbabwe, over the Zambezi River. There is an incredible view of Victoria Falls from that bridge that I wanted to show Dan. Then we went to Zigzag Restaurant for dinner. What a great surprise to watch occasional highlights of the Packer game! We felt like we were home for a little while!

Monday was our “day off” and we made the most of it. We crossed the river over to Botswana, to Chobe Safari Lodge where we took a river safari in the morning and a game drive in the afternoon. Our family has been involved in Africa since 2000, and this is one of our most favorite excursions, so I was thrilled to be able to take Dan on safari. We saw so many animals including hippos and cape buffaloes, warthogs and crocodiles, giraffes, fish eagles and a pride of lions. In all of my safari experiences I have never seen so many elephants! There must have been hundreds!
After we’d returned to Livingstone, we connected with Bob & Jody Hayton, a missionary couple whose father lives in Hayward WI. We’d promised to bring back some items for them. We ended up staying for hours with them; we both came away saying “they are like us!” God was so in this relationship. When I shared that I was working on radio and television advertising and promotion for the school, they were able to take me over to ZNBC television station. This is the national television network for Zambia. I met the sales manager and she helped me with all the questions that I had about how to get advertising on their station. Not only was she a Christian, but she is a member of the BIC (Brethren in Christ Church). If you remember, the BIC owns the land that MICS is built on and the school will fall under their jurisdiction soon. She knew about MICS and was more than willing to help me with this project! All the way around, this connection was divine! 

Here’s how it played out: Our friends, Mark and Peggy Halvorsen, who are involved in work in Liberia gave Jim Burmeister our contact info, Jim called my wife, Kathy. We found out that Jim goes to the same church in Hayward that our daughter, LeeAnn does. Jim asked us if it was possible to bring back some items from Zambia that he would sell to benefit his daughter and son-in-law’s ministry. We made contact with them, Bob & Jody, and in talking with them, they are able to get us connected with the sales manager of the national television network, who I will need to work with to get TV ads on the air! It took each person involved to be obedient to the Holy Spirit, but you can see only God can orchestrate all of that! Wow, isn’t that amazing?

Today, Tuesday, we drove out to the Victoria Falls National Park to see this Wonder of the World. While the water is quite low its size still amazed us. If you’ve seen Niagara Falls, Victoria Falls will make it look small. We then went shopping for the building materials and plumbing parts that we still need. We got started at 10am and didn’t finish until 4pm! We went to Handyman’s Paradise (small Menards) then on to two hardware stores and the market. We found more plumbing parts at the market (like our farmer’s market) than we did at the stores we visited! 

We arrived back in Macha with enough time for me to Skype with Kathy for about an hour while Dan organized all our receipts. Now, we’ve put together a huge TO DO list for our remaining three work days. While I am out video-taping and interviewing people for the TV ads that I will be producing (really my production staff at DiscoverWisconsin Television will be doing this for me, thank you guys!), Dan will be finishing up some plumbing and hooking up water heaters. Together, between the two of us, we will be finishing up water pipes & covering them up, finishing up the septic dry wells, pouring concrete and building a cover for the borehole. You can see that we have much to do and not a lot of time. Please pray that our efforts will be multiplied and we will have completed all of this before we fly out on Saturday.
Thank you for standing with us, and praying for us. We feel your prayers here. 

God has been so good; He has been affirming us and confirming what we sense He is directing us to move in. We see so much more than we first saw and it is so good!

With excitement and joy for what He is up to,
Greg, with Dan

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Little Zambian Culture

Here we are in front of Mono's house.

October 27, 2012

Last night we were invited to an authentic Zambian meal at Mono’s house. Mono is a fabulous cook; had she lived in a metropolis you could picture her with her own cooking show. And, let me add, Mono does not have electricity or indoor plumbing. Here’s the menu from left to right:
1. Tonga sauce, which was very good!
2. Tonga chicken
3. Pumpkin leaves with ground nuts. (Ground nuts are peanuts, and a staple here.)
4. Cabbage leaves with ground nuts.
5. Beans
6. Mashed potatoes.
7. Nshima is in a pot on the floor. (Pronounced “n’sheema”, with an almost unnoticeable “n”.)
My dinner at Mono's
Eating out at Macha's only restaurant.
Every Zambian meal starts with hand washing.
Today we worked a full day, but had decided that we’d eat at the only local eatery, Vision Restaurant.  To eat at Vision you must call ahead and order your meals, let them know what time you will want to dine. We called at noon and Dan and I both ordered double cheeseburgers and chips; Greg K ordered a chicken wrap with chips and Gil & Ronda ordered chicken wraps as well.  When we arrived we found out that all they had were Beef & Rice or Beef & Potatoes. So, we all had Beef & Rice and it was good. You’ll notice that we are eating by candlelight as the power here in Macha is intermittent, and often is off during the evenings.

Zambian carpentry tools
Tomorrow is Sunday, and we plan to attend the BIC Church (that’s Brethren in Christ Church) for part of the service. Most Sunday services last approximately three hours. Greg K is flying home tomorrow, so Flying Mission will be sending the plane for him sometime in the morning. Gil & Ronda will ride along and see him off at Lusaka International Airport before returning on Monday.

After we see the Krause's get off the ground, Dan and I will jump in the car and drive to Livingstone for a little R & R. It’s about a three hour trip. While there we will take in a game drive and a river safari, and see Victoria Falls. And before we head back to Macha, we will do a little shopping at Handyman’s Paradise, equivalent to a small Menards or Home Depot for some materials that we need to finish some of our projects.

Macha bank; it's a shipping container.
Before we head back we will connect with a missionary couple there in Livingstone who helps widows to set up cottage industries so that they can be self-supporting. We will be filling our duffel bags (that we brought all the uniforms in) with items that these women have made. The father of one of the missionaries lives in Hayward WI, and he will be selling these goods for the women. He attends the same church as our daughter, LeeAnn.  

Sylvia does a great job as a boarding parents; she calls Kathy & I, "Mum & Dad".
That’s what’s happening on this side of the world! Keep praying that we will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, that the work be completed well and on time, at the same time we will be an encouragement to those around us.

Glad to be on this journey with you,
Greg, and Dan