Friday, September 21, 2012


I’ve been watching pieces of planks being cut, nailed and finagled together for months now. Every so often, I’d ask Jeremy how his medieval torture device was coming along which was mostly responded to with smirks and grunts. This water wheel has been the farm obsession for a while. “It’ll let us pump water to a tank to feed the gardens which will make them more productive in the dry season, raising profits and making the garden initiative more sustainable,” my farmer husband explained to me. I remained skeptical, looking more at the time, labor and material investment that was going into this project. But several weeks ago, during one discussion (argument) regarding division of labor and family priorities, I made the heart decision to be a more admiring and supportive wife. Truth be told I had been feeling like I was taking a back seat to the farm and I was asking for help. But when Jeremy would talk about the water wheel in his farm voice, and about the production possibilities frontier in his accountant voice, I would see a twinkle in his eye  - far be it from me to steal the twinkle from my beau.
Anyway. I decided that I would support this venture, come hell or high water. Even if that meant doing my ow business all by my onesie and receiving Jeremy home at the end of the day tired, hungry and D.I.R.T.Y. When black hose and green straps and all manner of craziness started going on that thing, I redirected my tongue and started praying that it would just work. I was really worried that after all the blood, sweat and tears, that Jeremy and the guys would be left with disappointment. And a heap of firewood.

And so when last Friday, Jeremy came and said, “We’re starting to roll it down the hill, wanna watch?” I prayed, “Dear Lord, may this please excite Jeremy. And let him be encouraged. And let no one die. Amen.” I prayed for a spirit of admiration towards my hubs for the hour or so it took them to roll the water wheel down the hill to the river. With all of the heaving and ho-ing the guys were doing, it was actually kind of funny.

When it got to the bank of the river and had a six foot ledge to navigate, I actually started to really worry. Jeremy was in the river acting like he was going to catch this thing and I could see on all of the guys faces that they themselves knew they were not going to be able to ease this gargantuan object nicely into the water. I called Jeremy over and said calmly, “Sweetheart, I’m concerned.” When, “don’t worry, I’ve got it under control,” was his reply, the tears started filling my eyes and I clarified, “but I think you are about to die, and you do not have life insurance. And furthermore, if you DO die, I’m not hauling your body back to America, which means you’ll get buried right there next to the chinese cabbage and a tin plate will serve as your headstone.” My darling husband took my hand and looked at me with his look which reads, ‘I love you. Despite your melodrama.’ And said, “I promise, I’ve got it under control.” I sniffled, said, “ok” and turned on the camera to video this craziness. For the next five minutes I held my breath and made Ruthy hold Bronwyn so I could focus. They eased the wheel down, bit by bit, with Jeremy calmly giving directions of who needed to hold back and who needed to let go and who needed to get in the river to provide more support. I kept praying that God would honor my desire to be supportive and let it work and not let anyone get hurt. With much yelling back and forth of “hurry up! Slower! Eeeeeasy now!” etc the wheel made its way down into the water, not crushing anyone and not making so much as a splash. The farm worker guys all had a look of relief on their faces and Jeremy moved right on to phase two as if to emphasize to us all, “see, I told you I had it under control.”

With a bit more twinsting and turning, lifting and hoisting, the wheel made its way to its final resting point between two ‘Y’ poles on either side of the river. The guysgave the wheel a spin, price-is-right style, and what do you know, it started pumping water! You would have thought that these farm guys had just landed on the $1.00 mark and were going to the show case show down! They were yelling and cheering and clapping and splashing in the water as it came out of the pipe! “It works! It works! I didn’t think it would, but it works! Bashi Winnie is the man of all men!” I have to say, I was extremely proud. All that time I was sure that this crazy contraption was just a waste of planks, and there I stood, watching this totally huge, totally crazy, monster of a wheel spin in our river pumping life-giving water for us all. I was so thankful. My admiration was genuine and from the heart. Everyone had balked at this venture, and now they were calling my husband the man of all men.
Bronwyn just sort of sat and played with the girls while all of this was going on, and so for her sake, I would like to say this:
Baby girl, you should be so proud that you have such a special daddy. He is steady and firm, constant and consistent in all he does. When people call him crazy, including your mother, he is gracious and understanding, but keeps pressing on. He is crafty and skillful – he can do and make anything he wants. He loves you so much and is also trying to raise you with the confidence to live life fully, using every one of your God given talents to glorify God and bless others. You and I both can be very thankful that God put this man in our lives!

safely sitting with ruthy
no idea whats going on but still perfectly content

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

moments I love

I love this.

Timo wanted to join Winnie on a fun filled farm adventures. After a morning of riding around ba jelemy (aka, dad) both were pooped. The lul of the the land rover knocked them both out - Bronwyn asleep on me, Timo asleep on Bronwyn. As I sat, watching their chests rise and fall, each resting on another's lap, I felt so fortunate to hold them both there in that way. What a gift children are from the Lord. Melts my heart. 

done and done

I thank God daily that he gave me such an outgoing and people loving baby. This child is growing up without a personal bubble and she absolutely loves it. People are in her space ALL the time, touching her, grabbing her, loving on her. Its wonderful and adorable. I love that she is learning something other than the American awkwardness of “excuse me, please don’t touch me. Thanks.” But I just felt like sharing that sometimes it gets to be too much. Every once in a while I sense that she is reaching sensory overload and I rush in to save her. But just this once I snapped a pic of what that “I’m done here mom” face looks like. 99 times out of 100, Bronwyn is all giggles and smiles, but when she’s done, baby girl is DONE.

content. happy as a clam.

all smiles, ready to play.

done and done.

seriously mom? can we go HOME NOW!

Please trust me that I don't leave my baby in other people's arms if she is sad and wanting me. Really, I don't. I just realized that sometimes I make it seem like our life is all giggles and smiles, and felt the need to round the picture out. Zambian baby culture dictates that as soon as a baby starts to cry, back to mom she goes. I love that. It means I can hand my baby to someone knowing that she'll be returned to me as soon as she needs to be. I'm immensely grateful for the kind attention Bronwyn gets every day. Baby girl has no idea how blessed she is!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

reason number 234257 why I love breastfeeding here

Not once but TWICE this week a neighbor lady came up to me, grabbed Bronwyn's chunk-a-lunk thighs, squished her flab and said to me in an enthusiastic tone, "Bethany, your breasts are AWESOME!"

Thank you ladies. I think you are pretty swell yourselves. ;)

oppy bifday!

Our family believes in celebrating birthdays. We believe that each person is special and important and worth throwing a party for. And besides, who doesn’t like an excuse for cake with CANDLES! Woohoo! So it makes us sad when so few kids here know when their birthday is. There’s no counting down the days, no build up or great anticipation. When we teach the kids in the preschool to answer the question “how old are you?” most of them answer, “six!” because that’s what the kid before them said. I wish I could throw a birthday party for everyone in the village, but since children under 15 are half of the Zambian population and there’s a baby born every day at the clinic – well, that’s a lot of parties. 

Instead, we’ve attached ourselves to one family in particular – the Kundas. The Kunda family comes up in newsletters a lot because we are extremely close to them. Two of their children were named after us. Usually when someone names a child after you, the family with the child gives a chicken to the person who is the name sake. We’ve made it known to the Kundas that we think this tradition is lame and that if they were nice enough to name their kids after us, WE should be the ones giving THEM chickens. But because I hate to watch a good bird die, we compromise and throw all the Kunda kids birthday parties!

Now, before you get too impressed, know that an awesome party here is categorically different than an awesome party in the US. There are no clowns, no jumping castles and no pinyatas. BUT- there IS one dutch oven made chocolate brownie cake with way too much frosting and sprinkles (!) and a viewing of old-school little rascals. And everyone loves it. And the kids feel special. And that’s the point.

Some day I’ll have to video tape the part where we sing happy birthday. It comes out more like “oppy bifday” and is really sweet. But for now I’ll show you the cake cooking process and the happy faces about to devour the final result. 

baking the cake in cast-iron on the brazier

the whole Kunda gang

Beauty thinking "get in my belly!!!"

So next time you make a cake in a temperature controlled oven, sing oppy bifday and think of me, ok?