Before I tell you my sad tale, there’s something you should know about Africa. Everything is bigger here. The trees are bigger. The animals are bigger. The insects are bigger. Everything that can be bigger IS.
Then there’s something you should know about me. I can’t grow anything. At all. Horticulture hates me. Bring me the vegetables and I’ll give you an entree that Jamie Oliver wouldn’t turn down. Bring me the plant and it will shrivel on the way in the door, begging for mercy all the way.
In case you thought I was exaggerating.
However, I firmly believe “nothing ventured, nothing gained” and this last year I determined to conquer my nemesis: the vegetable garden. After talking to a variety of home gardeners I found a general consensus: Carrots. Anyone can grow carrots. After considering the fact that preschoolers even grow carrots from carrot tops, I decided even I could not screw this up. I sallied forth with seeds: carrot, onion, and cauliflower (because I am a masochist at heart). I cleared, mulched, and tenderly planted those tiny seeds in the soil. I’ll confess that I was skeptical. After decades of failure (my preschool carrot didn’t survive the week) could I hope to see those seeds germinate? Survive?? Produce some FOOD?!
While I waited to see if Tim’s fond epithet “the Minus Touch” might be overcome with a little care and patience, Monica planted some flowers. Apparently the plant kingdom does not hold one’s unfortunate genes against them.
white fluffy flowers and pink puffy flowers. I am such a horticulturist. Ok, Monica grew these. I had nothing to do with it.
With time, water, and sunshine my carrots did grow. And much to my surprise they actually looked… great. Lacey green fans promising a juicy, crisp harvest before long. As the carrot tops began to expand I decided to take a little sneak peek at my gardening victory.
Apparently the nematodes are bigger in Africa is well.
Freakiest carrot I have ever seen and apparently NOT edible (unless you like ingesting nematode egg sacks).
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. At least we have flowers!!
Olivia takes time to smell the… whatever those flowers are 🙂
Please share your gardening failures so I don’t feel like such a loser. You know… unless you don’t have any of those stories… in which case you can just go away and enjoy your garden.
Ah yes. While parasites are common in EVERY part of the world (yes, friend, you too could have them!), they are a particular menace in Africa. Parasites seem to cling to every leaf, rock, crevice, droplet, hair, and fiber.
You’ve seen a dog frantically scratching it’s rear on the grass right? These bad boys are known for causing, ahem, “perineal itching” Good times.
But, wait! There’s more!!!
so many options
So what’s a mom to do? Well, there are a few great anti-parasitic medications out here, but you just can’t take them as often as you get exposed (infected!) with the nasty little buggers.
ah, Albendazole, my friend. By the time a year lapses we are soooo ready for you.
too bad it’s also REALLY toxic for humans!
Fortunately there are many other safe options. We’ve tried all kinds of herbal concoctions and have our favorites.
Paragone… it tastes likes strawberries and the capsules are TINY. Need I say more?? Even Olivia will beg for this one.
Yes, he is wearing elephant pjs. I’m lucky if he lets me wash them. Down the hatch, Freddy!
Raw pumpkin seeds paralyze tape worms. Puree a big handful with some honey & eat a generous helping on an empty stomach. You’ll find out what’s on the inside. Try it. I dare you. 🙂
Homemade wormwood and black walnut capsules. When I made these I wasn’t sure they’d be worth the effort………… oh, they so are.
You see where it says “1/2 pound”. Notice how much of that we’ve already consumed? Before making our home here in Zambia I didn’t know it was humanly POSSIBLE to put down that much clove powder. Desperate times, desperate tummy aches…. hey, Christmas flavored burps- can’t go wrong!
But the best, the strongest, the all-time heavy weight champion:
Oh yes. It burns going down. It burns its way through. It burns coming out again. But it burns those parasites too…. DEATH… by cayenne pepper.
bottle half empty in the 4 years we’ve lived here I’ve bought nearly a kilogram of cayenne pepper. That’s over 2 pounds. And it’s almost all gone. Burn, baby, burn!
Down goes the first one, down goes the second one……….
oh how they wiggle and squirm!
Actually, though, we’ve been pretty lucky. We have our occasional outbreaks of ringworm and pinworms, we’ve had a few rounds with giardia and amoebic dysentery, oh, and I suppose Tim has had roundworms a few times. And tapeworms… but considering our level of exposure…. I’m grateful it hasn’t been worse.
We are finally back home in Africa! After a marathon container pack and load in March and April, we packed our THIRTEEN suitcases up and headed home. (Don’t even ask me how I ended up with that many check-ins after we shipped an 18 ton container. Life happens!) 😛
Plus three car seats, 6 carry-ons, 3 children, a stroller, and about 6lbs of snack food (who likes airplane food??).
The flights went much better than expected. Frederick (now 3) had a meltdown or two, but for that little OCD monkey… that’s not too bad! Fortunately his “blank-let” was along for the ride and totally saved the day (and the sanity of a few hundred haggard passengers) 😀 Olivia did GREAT. She didn’t sleep much for 30 hours… but she did great nonetheless! One of the kind and attentive flight attendants said to me at about 3am, “My. She doesn’t stop moving, does she??” Nope. I’m very thankful the check-in lady was kind enough to get us as many bulkhead seats as she could manage (God bless British Airways)!
You aren’t tired, are you?
Frederick in Heathrow (after 5 hours of being force-marched up and down the length of the terminal). We were tired… but more importantly… so was he!!!
We arrived bright and early and our friends brought not one, but TWO cars to pick us and our luggage up and transport us all back to Kabwe. Driving home was a little strange- Lusaka has such a burgeoning economy that even in our absence much had changed. Most noticeably: the roads were even more congested. Ah well.
Our first day home was great (if exhausting). We kept the kids up late so they actually slept pretty well (midnight to 9am!) Friday morning all seemed well….. then Olivia seemed to be melting. I mean we’d set her on the floor and she’d just kinda slump over. :L I called it jetlag and carried on. By bedtime a fever set in… and I spent half the night nursing, jiggling, patting, walking, and cleaning up diarrhea diapers and puke. You know, for a 15 month old, she has GREAT projection. Just sayin’. But that was only half the night, right? Good catch. You see, the other half was spent with Olivia AND Frederick. Who also has projectile vomiting down to an art from. Who knew? Our family is so talented.
This was Saturday morning. It was a full 48 hours before he would eat a single mouthful of food. Poor kid didn’t have much weight to lose. Imagine this minus 5 lbs 🙁
Saturday and Sunday are now kind of a blur. I remember changing about 2,465,894 pairs of diarrhea pants from Frederick and another few million diarrhea diapers from Olivia. Oh, did I mention that we hadn’t gone shopping yet?? Praise GOD we had left a bunch of wipes in the cupboard and the cloth diapers were ready to go!!! I did NOT have enough disposables in the diaper bag to get through that putrid marathon! I would have been resorting to desperate measures like wash cloths inside ziplock baggie pants! And yes, I have really done that. (Desperate times, desperate times!) 😀 I’m also incredibly thankful for our neighbor, Christel, who had the food basics waiting for us in our kitchen (and a camping fridge for us to borrow since ours somehow broke while it was turned off!) And for water kefir! I had NO yogurt, NO probiotics, NO dry toast for these poor diarrhea bellies. But I DID have all my precious cultures, packed with TLC (by another amazing friend, Joy) and carefully transported all the way to Zambia.
Three cheers for probiotic home brewing (NO, not THAT kind of brewing!)
It’s amazing how God supplies, though. In the last week I’ve probably averaged 3-5 hours of sleep a night. Any one who knows me will tell you that I do not function on less than 8 hours. 9 is better. 10 is awesome. (How am I surviving motherhood???) 😉 But I am really feeling ok. Now, I’m not volunteering to add anything to my to-do list… Fred and I are still dashing to the bathroom every 45 minutes or so… but I’m very thankful for the energy needed to take care of my babies. (And Timothy… who’s also sick. But he takes himself to the bathroom.) Then there are the little big things like there being an ample supply of wipes in our cupboard. Seriously, I would have been outside hosing their little butts off at 2 am if not for those precious packages of prelubricated, disposable convenience!!
Oh, one last thing. Our sewage pipes are blocked. Diarrhea goes down and………..
I mean, really. You’d think I could find a few stolen moments to update the ol’ blog during this furlough!
Well, the truth is… I DID find a few quiet moments here and there…
God bless grandparents (and their infinite desire to spend time with their grandchildren).
We’ve been having a great (busy!) time in the States. Timothy has been able to gather tons (literally) of books and materials for the Container Project. The kids have gotten to spend lots of time with their grandparents. And I’ve been tanking up on Starbucks whenever possible. 😀
Oh, America. Oh, ICE CREAM!!!
In October we were able to make a road trip to California. We took the kids to Sea World and they LOVED it (who persuaded me that taking 3 kids, aged 4 and under, was a good idea??? I should stop listening to my own suggestions.) Part of the reason we went to California was because I received a scholarship to attend a nutrition and health conference in Santa Clara. Wow, it was so helpful! The longer we’re in Zambia the more I find myself teaching mommies how to feed and nourish their little ones. I’m grateful for the resources I have at hand now!
Busy. Fun… Fun. Busy….. Crazy.
Monica and Frederick LOVED the beach!
In Decemebr Tim got to go hunting with his brother, Aaron. He didn’t get to shoot anything, but they did spend an afternoon hiding from drug runners. Who says adventure is only in Africa?
We recently celebrated Frederick’s third birthday. Where does the time go? And next week Timothy reaches 35. Party time? I think so. 😉
The next month or so will be spent packing the many, many boxes of books and supplies for the container. This process is arduous and time-consuming… but sooooo worth it! I can’t wait to use the books in Zambia as we reach out to teachers, parents, and new Christians.
Thank you for your prayers!!!
oh, and God bless America!!!!!!!!
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
Thank you so much for your prayers while we travel and put together the Container Project. If you want to catch up with us while we’re in the States, you can reach us through the Contact Us page on our website.
The morning of the President’s arrival we scrambled to have everything ready. Many of the Zambian dignitaries and leaders came early and lined up to greet the President and his wife. Most of them were sent home to change from their suit and tie to work clothes, with the injunction to dress appropriately for working. Their perplexed faces were, I’ll admit, quite funny to observe. In the early afternoon, the President’s twenty-four car motorcade pulled up to the clinic. I stood at the end of a line of Zambian VIPs, now dressed in work cloths, to meet President and Mrs. Bush. Some of the Zambians were visibly taken back by the fact that we were all, including the President and his wife, dressed in the most informal clothes imaginable.
Working with a former President was an unbelievable opportunity for the guys who have been helping us build our house. I’m thankful I could involve them in the renovation. Photo by Shealah Craighead/The Bush Center
Over the course of the morning we reminded the steady stream of arriving volunteers that the purpose of this time was to work and not to dress up and chat. That we were serious became apparent when the President stepped out of his car, briefly shook hands with everyone, and then asked for his paint brush. Culturally Zambians view manual labor, especially dirty work, as the job of the lower class, the poor, and the uneducated. Seeing a world leader hard at work was a tremendous shock. Because we regularly teach Christ’s example of servant leadership, it was gratifying to help a leader of such significance set a godly example of service. After watching the President for a few stunned moments, many of the volunteers followed the President and Mrs. Bush’s example of dignity in labor and began working with exceptional diligence.
President and Mrs Bush brought a remarkable team of hard working people with them. Photo by Shealah Craighead/The Bush Center
Since I had carried out the preparation work, I was asked to partner with George Bush’s contractor in managing the volunteers’ projects. This was a challenge as over 30 people showed up to work the first day, all requesting direction and supplies. This number did dwindle over the following days as the volunteers realized this really was a working party and not a photo-op. Those who remained worked hard and required less management as we all got into the rhythm of our various responsibilities.
I got to meet and work with some truly incredible people. Photo by Shealah Craighead/The Bush Center
Because the project took place over the weekend, I asked President Bush’s coordinator if I could be excused on Sunday morning to attend church. I was apprehensive that this request would cause consternation from the team (or the President). I don’t think a lot of people keep the President waiting while they go to church. However, it was important to me to put God first. The Coordinator’s response was not what I’d expected at all! Surprisingly, he wanted to know where I went to church and if I could take the Secret Service agents to examine the possibility of an “off the record” attendance by the President and his wife. After seeing the church, the Secret Service felt it would be a safe venue, but I was strictly told not to share the information with anyone. Thus on Sunday morning we were able to welcome President George and First Lady Laura Bush to our small church in Kabwe. What a shock it was to the people who came that morning! It was incredible to worship the Lord with this couple and their team of aids and servicemen, many of whom were becoming very good friends. We were blessed with a great message that morning and many of the members of the team shared how touched they were by the service. I’m glad the Lord gave me the courage to ask for the morning to go worship Him!
The most important way to lead is by example. Photo by Shealah Craighead/The Bush Center
Everyone worked really hard over the next few days, and we watched the dilapidated clinic transform into something attractive and serviceable. I had several opportunities to talk to President and Mrs. Bush. I appreciated how down-to-earth they were and enjoyed the President’s dry sense of humor. He even took as much hassling as he dished out.
Excuse me, Mr President. You missed a spot. (Yes. I really said that. I couldn’t resist.) 😀 Photo by Shealah Craighead/The Bush Center
I asked President Bush why he came to Kabwe to renovate a rural clinic. He replied that he didn’t want to just be “president”, but wanted to roll up his sleeves and really help people. I have to say, regardless of political opinions or affiliations, I appreciate anyone who is willing to work with their own hands to help the underprivileged and suffering people in Africa. It was an honor to work alongside someone with an appreciation for good, hard work.
Talking shop Photo by Shealah Craighead/The Bush Center
On Tuesday there was a re-opening ceremony for the clinic and their new cervical cancer program. The local and international media finally had their chance to take photos of the President and Mrs. Bush and interview them about the project. I was asked to open the ceremony in prayer. Before everyone, I was privileged to give glory to God for everything that He had done to bring about this event.
Proclaiming the Word of Christ before the re-opening of the clinic was an honor. Photo by Shealah Craighead/The Bush Center
After the ceremony, the President and his staff, many of whom I’m proud to call friends and brothers in Christ, returned to Lusaka. As he left, we exchanged thanks and I gave him one of my favorite books of prayer, Valley of Vision.
Photo by Shealah Craighead/The Bush Center
It was a privilege to be a part of this clinic renovation project. The opportunity to serve our community alongside President and Mrs. Bush and their incredible staff was both unexpected and incredible. I’m not sure why the Lord allowed me to be a part of all of this, but I’m glad He did!
I’m thankful for the many new friends I made during this project. God’s people are everywhere. Photo by Shealah Craighead/The Bush Center
More photos of the clinic project from The Bush Institute on Flikr