It is with great joy that I can say I am officially (and safely!) settled in at the Every Orphan's Hope (EOH) office, which will also double as my home for the next 6 months, in Lusaka, Zambia!
On Tuesday, January 5, I left Boston and flew to Texas where I was able to meet Gary Schneider (the founder of EOH) and Paul and Kim Lueders (the other couple that makes up the rest of the American side staff!). Then, Tuesday, Wedensday and much of Thursday was spent getting properly 'orientated' as to what I should expect in Zambia, and what will be expected of me. (Though I did manage to find time to watch the Calvin v Hope basketball game over livestream. Ya Knights! I apologize if anyone heard my screaming from my hotel room!)
Thursday I was then off to the airport again... this time destined for London, England. With long layover (11 hours), the staff of EOH had put together an entire walking tour of London for me; thus I was pretty excited to get off the ground, as I was going to have more than enough time to make it to the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. However (inevitably) the plane was delayed due to icy conditions in the UK. We did eventually get off the ground..... with the slightest hint of possibility that I could still make it to the changing of the guard if I took a faster and more expensive transportation method (!!). Nevertheless, once we arrived in London after a 9hr flight, our plane sat on the tarmack for about another hour and a half, shooting that plan :-( . I tried not to be disappointed, and still headed into the city for the rest of the tour.... which was fantastic. Getting to stretch my legs while seeing Buckingham Palace, the Royal Park, Westminster Abby, the Parliament building (including Big Ben) and an up close and personal look at London's Eye (the carousel) was a perfect teaser... and gave me every reason to want to go back. (Who want's to ride a giant carousel alone?!)
After walking around for about 4 hours in freezing temperatures....while dressed for Africa (what would I have given for a pair of gloves?!)... I was ready to head back. Getting through security was a breeze compared to the States, and I headed for my gate. Thankfully, our plane to Zambia boarded on time. However, we then sat on the tarmack for another 2 and a half hours as we waited to be 'de-iced'. (I think I would have rather just had the flight delayed and had more time in London, or at the very least been permitted to walk around in the airport! But oh well...such is life.) Eventually we were on our way... for another 10 hour flight.
I woke up this morning (Saturday) bursting with excitement. As we got closer to Zambia I began praying in earnest that I would be able to make a few instant connections and find some community with the Zambians. It was about that time that my seatmate, Laura, and I began chatting. In her late 20s or early 30s, she was a Canadian who taught in a school for international students. She then asked me if I played volleyball... and I could feel God's love pour over me as I realized that this could quite possibly be my first connection. Apparently she, and a few coworkers play volleyball on Monday and Wednesday nights at the school she teaches at... and she lives close to the EOH office. We exchanged email addresses and she encouraged me to come check it out 'if I at all loved the sport'. :-) At this point it is unclear how it will work out for me to play... but it is needless to say that I am very, very excited at the opportunity.
Flying into Africa is like nothing I have ever experienced before. All green. No concrete. America could learn a lesson.
At about 8am Zambian time we departed the plane on a staircase that was brought right out onto the only runway, and we were able to walk across the lawn into the airport.... with loads of family members waiting for their loved ones right outside. (Even before we got to the border control/Visa station!) I was slightly relieved to see a woman standing with a sheet of paper with my name printed on it.... as I knew instantly it must be Mrs. Harawa, the Zambian director of EOH. Although I would love to go into detail, let me just say for the sake of brevity that she was very welcoming and helped immensely in the process of getting the proper Visa. After that, it was a wait for my luggage, which (after quite some time) did eventually show up. It must have been in the back of the storage, because I was starting to get nervous and almost let out a shout when I finally spotted my suitcases.
From the airport we walked outside and met Humphrey, an EOH volunteer who does most of the driving around town. As I'm sure I'll tell you much about the country side in future blog entries and such, let me just say... I loved the drive.
We then went straight to a supermarket to get me my groceries... and just 2 quick observations on that: it was alot more Western than I was expecting (yay!), but I do not understanding Zambian pricing/money exchange rates at all (boo!). I was glad to have Mrs Harawa there with me.
Then it was (finally!) onto the EOH office... my new home! Bright pink, surrounded by huge walls with electric barbed wire on the top; I have a bedroom with 2 twin beds and a bookcase.... and what looks to be my own shower room, bathroom, and kitchen. (It's going to be interesting to try to get a system down for meals when I cannot use any non-boiled tap water for cooking!) After arriving, Mrs Harawa and Humphrey left me to get 'settled in' and do some more errands.... and I have been pretty much alone ever since. Except for the gaurd outside. (That's right.. the office has a guard. Seems a little odd, but apparently its' standard because of expensive computers.... and hopefully it will help my Mom and Dad feel a little better about me being alone here too. :-) Haha. )
So there you have it. Tomorrow is my first church service, and an opportunity to meet many more people, including (hopefully) some of the kids from the Orphan Homes!
A few prayer requests:
-That I will 'mesh' well with all of the personalities in the EOH office.
-That I won't make myself sick as I try and prepare food in ways I've never experienced before! (Eek.)
-An open and willing heart as I try and figure out what a routine is going to look like and how I can best help out around here!!