Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Coming Home

As we swiftly approach the time for us to board 2 planes that will take us back to Texas (in 10 days to be exact), I have been asked if I was excited about going home to America.  
Quite frankly, that is a complex and multifaceted question.  

Where is a missionary's home?  Truthfully, a missionary's home is Heaven.  We live a life where we never really fit in.  We have been radically changed by living overseas so that living in America, even for a short time, is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole but also, our blatant American-ness, is never fully disguised here in Zambia. 

Are we looking forward to 5 months in America?  I speak for myself, when I cautiously, say "I think so."  Why am I cautious?  Well, for one, life in America - for all of us - is just a pause button on our real life here in Zambia; a very busy pause button at that.  Yes, I am totally looking forward to time with our families, every convenience imaginable, toilets that flush all the time, conveyor belts at the grocery store, electricity full time, shopping, and worship with my church family but really, it is very easy for me to get overwhelmed by the everything-ness of America.  Also, as missionaries, we have learned to go deep into relationships very quickly and sustain those relationships at all costs.  When we return back to the States, it is like we are trying to re-insert ourselves back into the lives of the people that we left almost 7 years ago and it doesn't always work they way we hope.   

We are not spiritual giants.  We are just people who live in obedience to the Lord at all costs but to tell you the truth, we desperately need encouragement, refreshment, and authentic relationships, too.  We will spend a lot of our time while in the States speaking to Southern Baptist churches about what the Lord is doing here in Zambia but we also need people to come along side of us to prop us up and choose to live life with us while we in America.

So, are we coming home?  No, but let us all rejoice that none of us are home wherever we are on this planet called Earth.  However, we are all looking forward to that celestial home of Heaven.  
Let's live each day to glorify the Lord and share His gospel at every opportunity.
We can do this together...

Friday, August 21, 2015

Cambio, Variazione, Umschalten, Changez = CHANGE...

Nothing ever stays the same.

I think that I speak for many missionaries in saying that this is one of the most difficult parts of being a 'sent out one' - change.  It seems like we live with almost constant change.  One of the most heartbreaking aspects of missionary life for me is the ebb and flow of friends.  It takes a very special relationship for me to define as a friendship.  I have had some friendships to burn starlight bright while they were with me (or near by, in the same country) then fizzle when they left Zambia.  Other friends are friends for life but life has taken us in two separate directions so that our communication has dwindled to be distressingly infrequent.  Nothing ever stays the same.

It is also hard to watch friends and families struggle with changing relationships.  My daughter's best friend just left today to go to boarding high school and the mother of the daughter who has gone to boarding school will come home to an early empty nest.  This hurts my heart for both of them.  This pain of separation, this changing of life is hard.  Nothing ever stays the same.

Jesus says in John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  

Nothing ever stays the same but in these lives full of trouble and change, there is peace.  Please pray peace over us all as we cope with changes in relationships, changes in families - that we will have peace and take heart because Jesus has really overcome the world.  Pray that our hearts will not be hardened but they will be open and willing to embrace others for the sake of the Gospel.  
Let it be so, Sweet Jesus.

More birthdays...

I had a great birthday on August 18th.  My wonderful hubby made me a Caramel Toffee Crunch Cheesecake, bought me some beautiful flowers and made me homemade french fries with cheese and bacon for supper.  It was a wonderful day with mother/daughter pedicures, lunch with friends and supper with family.
I am so grateful for my Lord, my life and my family!

 Playing with the camera - the girls and me...

Happy birthday to me - until next year.....

Lights Out!

Zambia is in the middle of an energy crisis, nation wide water rationing, increasingly frequent petrol (gasoline) shortages and an unavailability to find gas (propane).   Economists are saying that by November there could be a total blackout.  One can only guess to what could be intended by ‘blackout’. 

What this means for us is that we are having recurrent power outages for 7-10 hours a day, most days of the week; the city water is often turned off which means very low water pressure with an inability to take showers at times plus a struggle in attaining more gas for our gas stovetop.

We are usually able to cook food when the power is out but most of our other missionaries only have electric stoves and ovens.  We are tremendously grateful that we have a gas stovetop - although, alarmingly, we have not been able to find more gas for our stove top (believe me, we have searched Lusaka) and we will soon join the ranks of those with no cooking ability when the power is out (which is becoming more and more frequent).  Some missionaries even loose water completely when the power goes out, not just low water pressure like in our home.

So, we have had to become a bit more creative in cooking.  We bought a small two burner stove top to use for light cooking when the power is ON so we will save our gas for when the power is OFF.  Every Friday night (for over 6 years) is Family Night when I make homemade pizza and we watch a movie or play games together.  Sometimes, that is difficult when the power is out so Jeff has ingeniously figured out how to make pizza on the stove and we have to watch our movies on the computer or play games by candlelight.

Here are a few pictures from our last stove top pizza night...

I have explained all this, not for you to have any extra concern for our family but to allow you to see that Zambia is in a bit of turmoil right now.  I ask you to pray for the country leaders and government of Zambia.  Please pray that they will act with integrity and wisdom in all ways to steer the country through these challenging times.  Please pray that our family (and other missionary families) will choose joy in the midst of frequent power outages and all that comes along with Zambia's energy crisis.

A little late on the birthday post...

We celebrated Hadassah's 14th birthday on July 28, 2015.  
Here are a few shots from her early morning gift opening.

She had also been wanting to cut her hair and soon after her birthday she went from the above picture to the below.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Snapshots of Castle Hills First Baptist Church, San Antonio Volunteer Team 2015

This is the second year that we have hosted a team from San Antonio, Texas - Castle Hills First Baptist Church.  They did awesome last year and did so again this year.  Monday thru Friday, we did door to door evangelism in the morning and children's ministry each afternoon.  Saturday they showed the Jesus Film in an area where a national pastor is trying to revive a dying church.  Those words seem easy to say but we all worked super hard this week - sharing the gospel and wrangling several hundred children each afternoon....

 Hadassah with some new friends...

Children, working hard...

Zoe and some new friends...

Levi was tired...

Jeff, sharing Christ with a group of guys...

Zoe loves to hold the babies.

The coloring sheets and crayons were a huge hit!

Even Levi got to color a bit.  Don't let this picture fool you, the other side of the church was full.  This side was just the overflow...

Zoe, helping to pass out crayons.

This man came to know Christ and returned the next day for Jeff to disciple him.

The mothers and grandmothers also loved to color!

In the middle of the compound.  Jeff is wrapped in gold material to signify God and Levi is just sitting down (yes, in the dirt) to watch...

Castle Hills FBC Volunteer Team and The Lowe Family

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sixteen Years...

Today is our sixteenth wedding anniversary!  

I got to choose what we were going to do for our anniversary 
and I decided to try a new place that serves High Tea.

Below are three of our greatest blessings from our marriage....

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Book Review

Just a short book review on a book that will be available at the end of May.  

I very much enjoyed this story.  From the very beginning, you are thrown into the story and it sweeps you away - in more ways than one!  As I began to read, I feared that this story might be just another ordinary, a bit lack luster, tale but as the plot moved steadily along, I realized this story was more than just boy and girl meet, boy and girl are kept apart and finally, boy and girl live happily every after.  I very much appreciated the twists and turns of the plot.  Although this novel was not my most favorite, I hold it in high regard because of the admirable spiritual threads that are skillfully woven into the lives of the main characters and therefore, in my opinion, the true Biblical spirituality made the story worth five stars.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Levi's Birthday Celebrations Take 2

Today, we got to celebrate Levi's 8th birthday with his pick of lunch.  He chose fried chicken (thanks, Jeff - it was wonderful), green bean bundles and mashed potatoes.  He chose Cookie Dough Lovers Ice Cream Pie for his dessert.  I didn't get a picture of the one that I made but below is what it (sort of) looked like.

Recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction (her photo).

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Levi's Birthday Celebrations Take 1

Because today is Easter AND Levi's 8th birthday and because we have a very busy day today at church, we have to do Levi's birthday celebration in two parts.  
This morning was gifts and tomorrow will be his chosen birthday meal and birthday dessert.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Book Review/Recommendation

I am making a new foray into book reviewing.  This book was absolutely stunning! I have long been a fan of Mesu Andrews even though I did not love 'In the Shadow of Jezebel'. Mesu is a master of biblical fiction. This may be my most favorite of her literary offerings. The history and research of the story did not overshadow the plot and characters but beautifully enhanced the entire book. The Bible was wondrously intertwined with fiction into the story which made it all flow so effortlessly. 

This is book is based upon the short description of Moses being put into the Nile as a baby and how he was raised in the Pharaoh's house.  The way the author took those few verses and created this amazing story was phenomenal.  The focus really was on the pharaoh's daughter and the book was ultimately her story.  I loved imagining 'What If' with Mesu Andrews and thoroughly enjoyed how it all tied into the Word of God.  I was even surprised by a few details that I did not realize were in the Bible.  

I was caught off guard when it ended and wanted it to continue into the Exodus but as I turned the last page, I realized there is going to be a Book 2 (yippee!!) that will focus on Miriam.  Very much recommended, especially if you love Biblical Fiction (which, honestly, I do not always prefer). Also, the Author's Note at the end was fascinating.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Day 28 - The last day of Photo A Day February!

This is what happens when I don't make my bed in the morning...
Two bug-a-boos make themselves at home as they read....
Hope you have enjoyed the glimpse into Zambia and our everyday lives throughout the month of February.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Day 27 - Photo A Day February

Hadassah has had severe ear pain since Monday.  We went to the doctor on Tuesday and started antibiotics but had to return two days later because the pain was still constant and it did not seem to be getting any better.  We saw the ENT and she said that Hadassah had a boil inside her ear that had ulcerated into tiny sores AND a fungal infection.  She kept saying that this was a very painful condition.  So, Hadassah has a port in her hand and will receive introvenous antibiotics two times a day for four days.  She also has a specialized pain medicine that seems to finally be helping her. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Day 26 - Photo A Day February

These are all sitenge cloths that I see everyday here in Zambia.  The ladies wrap their piece of cloth around themselves, sort of like a wrap-around skirt.  It is also used for carrying babies, head dresses, whole outfits are made out of them, aprons, diapers when no other cloth is available, blankets, etc...  
They come in every color imaginable and all different patterns.

Day 24 & 25 - Photo A Day February

A nightly ritual in our house - rabble rousing around the sink as the kids brush their teeth.

 A friend of ours buried his 6 month old grandson today.  
We were there with him as he picked up his daughter from the hospital and the baby, wrapped up snugly in a sitenge cloth.  
We transported the family and the baby in our truck to the cemetery.
We were there as some of the family dug a tiny grave and gently place the baby in the ground.  
We were there to grieve with them.  
Below is just a representation of what cemeteries are like here in Lusaka.  It is not a picture from today. Really, they are much worse than this.  
Please pray for the mother, Cindy, and her family as they mourn the loss of Baby Kennedy.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Day 23 - Photo A Day February

A picture from Zoe's new camera - on timer....

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Day 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 - Photo A Day February

We just got back from our week in South Africa so this is a catch up day for last week.

Above are some flower creations for Valentine's Day.  
Some American holidays are making their way over here.

Hadassah - age 13

Zoe - age 10

Levi - almost 8

Cloud coverage on our way to South Africa.

Our scrumptious lunch from yesterday. 
Yes, those are shrimp with eyes and antennas.  From what I can figure, all shrimp (called prawns over here) are served just like this.  They were very, very good but I like our American version better!