Friday, August 30, 2013

Creating advocates

A few weeks ago we spent time with some missionary friends in another part of the country and got to talking about how their girls (elementary school age) have adjusted to living in a rural African setting. The father told me about some of the hardships of having the girls in school and their decision to homeschool them instead. They also shared about how the girls have a core group of friends that they click with, but occasionally, they still have some difficult moments when others tease them, or when adults say things about their appearance or accent. Later in the day we were walking through town when we happened upon a crowd of people that had gathered for a Chief’s inauguration. The mother prepared the girls that if we continued down that path we would be walking through the mass of people – some might say things or touch them. She asked them if that would be ok or if we should take another route. The girls thought a moment, and opted to skirt around the crowd. They just didn’t feel like hearing “hey you white girl!” that afternoon, and the mother affirmed that that was just ok.

I think I’ve been “sheltered” a bit from some of the challenges of raising a minority kid up to this point. Our community has doted on Bronwyn with royal affections. But our time with our friends made me start thinking of some potential hard places in the future. I’m fairly confident that as long as she stays within five kilometers of home, she’ll have no problem. But our shopping trips in town have potential for harm and I feel it’s my duty to protect her from that as much as I can. I don’t think it’s rational to try to avoid hard environments all together, and we’ll have to work with her on how to handle heckling once she’s old enough to process that. But in the mean time, I’ve started doing the best thing I know to do – raising up for her a host of advocates.

The “roughest” place to be a little white girl (here) has got to be UB market – the locale we frequent for spare parts, fish, chitenges and used clothes. I’ve started making friends with shop keepers, letting Bronwyn play with their babies and telling them as much of our story as possible so that we get separated out from the miners, the Peace Corps volunteers and the random foreigners who pass through and are prime targets for a cheap laugh.

I feel like I’ve had quite a bit of success – instead of walking down the isle looking for a pile of fish and hearing “Ba mizungu! Ba mizungu, nkopwe no mwana wenu!” (White lady, I’m going to marry your daughter.) Now I hear, “Bana Winnie, good morning, how is Winnie today?” And if someone who hasn’t had a proper introduction yet decides to be obnoxious, there is a group of people to say, “hey you, she’s not ‘mizungu’ she’s Bana Winnie and she lives in Fimpulu and she speaks Bemba so she can hear everything you are saying so don’t be a punk about it.”

And I appreciate it, because I don’t think most people actually want to be jerky. I just think foreigners in an otherwise homogenous area make easy targets for cheap laughs when life gets boring and there’s nothing else to spice it up.  And by me clarifying that we are actually far more Zambian than most people realize, it just sort of removes that temptation to use us as fodder for the “I’m bored and want to get a laugh at your expense” category. I’m sure there will still be a few who eventually cause Bronwyn to ask, “Mom, what is UP with that guy?” And we’ll work through that when the time comes. But I hope that her advocates are so great in number and quality that, regardless of circumstance, her mind is set – Zambians are wonderful, worthy of friendship and respect, and in their presence I feel safe and loved. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

b-day follow up

My birthday was back in July and ya’ll haven’t heard a peep from me about the 30 for bethany’s 30th shebang since then. So I thought I’d get my act together and write a follow up.

We finally gathered the giving reports (do remember that all the financials are dealt with in America – the land of efficiency, and we live in Africa the land of… patience is virtue) and I just want to say one giant THANK YOU. Choshen Farm is not just the organization I work for, it’s the ministry that shapes the life of our family, it’s the thing we press into day in and day out, its why Bush Baby Colvin even exists – (otherwise I’d have to blog from Uber Normal American Baby Colvin… and who wants to read that?) And so your support of Choshen Farm is really a support of me personally and so again, THANK YOU.

I told everyone that we would have a drawing to see who would win a super awesome beaded keychain. I’ve run across such drawings on other blogs before and I gather that most people use cool techie apps to generate random numbers and have this elaborate scheme to ensure randomization and fairness. We, on the other hand, decided to employ the ultra sophisticated method of “Bronwyn draws names out of a hat.” 

And the winners are      !!! Well, she's not telling, but I have a list and your love-gifts are on their way.

And just because I love giving people stuff, even if your name was not one of the ones drawn, I decided to still name a chicken after you. No worries, you can thank me for that one later. (Besides, we just picked up 300 some odd birds the other week, and I figure they all deserve a good name.)

What you can thank me for now is standing in line at the Mansa post office to mail these key chains out. If ever there were a location of nightmare for those of us who still like to maintain our personal bubble despite having that personal bubble popped every day for the last seven years, the Mansa post office would be it. When the person in front of me moves up and I stay where I am to give myself three centimeters of breathing room, I’m quickly shoved forward by the twenty people behind me all of whom are muttering, “Geeze, don’t they have queues in America? Why is she messing with the flow?” Again, you’re welcome. 

If I don't come out, tell Jer & Winnie I love them
Keep in mind that mail from Zambia to America takes approximately 2-6 weeks depending on where it sits and for how long, so if you receive nothing – no key chain, no chicken christening photo – for a while, that’s why. And if after six weeks you still receive nothing, then perchance you forgot to mention on the check or paypal that this was for my birthday to which all I can say is, “know that I love you.” 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Raising a sabbath child

Hey friends, I’m baaaaaaack! I had to wipe some cobwebs off of the laptop and remember my password to log into the blog, but it did feel good to set down the routine for a time and focus on other things. Our Sabbath time was good. Good as in Mmmmmmm goooooood. We slept in, we had adventures, we ate food prepared by someone else, we made memories, we loved each other, we remembered why Sabbath is a top-ten on God’s list of loving rules to abide by.

I read something recently that made me choke on my own breath as I inhailed the holy-cow-this-is-significant-ness of it. Though I can’t remember the exact wordage, the point was that children formulate most of their opinions about who God is  - his character, his attributes, his worth - from observing their parents than from anything else. On the one hand, this is almost a “duh” concept, but as I thought about this truth in the context of our Sabbathing, I felt the dots all being joined together.

When I refuse to take Sabbath because of a compulsive need to be productive, I’m teaching my daughter to fear man more than God and to find her worth in something other than Him.

When I worry about how our Sabbathing will appear to donors and affect our ministry financially, I fail to teach my daughter that God is the Provider and the one we serve. (fyi, Choshen ministry money is NEVER used for Sabbath, vacation, holiday, rest, etc. just want to throw that our there in the name of full disclosure…)

When I fail to stop and smell the roses – both the proverbial and the literal ones – I fail to teach my daughter about thankfulness and the God of good and perfect gifts.

When she watches me go, go, go, fueled by a people pleasing mentality, I forfeit the opportunity to demonstrate what it means to live as a daughter of the King, a worshipful being, an approved work[wo]man who is unashamed.

On the seventh day, GOD rested. He sure did. When I fail to heed counsel and follow suit, I mislead my darling daughter by teaching her that God is something other than my ultimate example, a wholly good, sufficient provider who loves and affirms me for who I am in Him. How tragic is that?

When we stood in front of the church for Bronwyn’s baby dedication, we were asked if we agreed that we needed grace and the help of God’s people in raising her. We heartily concurred, though at the time I think I was assuming that meant grace as in thanks for not judging me if I don’t wash my hair before coming to church and help as in thanks for taking care of my baby in the church nursery and we sure appreciate the casseroles. But I see now that I need grace and the help of God’s people for so much more. I need brothers and sisters to graciously remind me that missionaries are not super-spiritual beings and to affirm our Sabbath rest. I need your help in the form of comments and e-mails if you’ve read a year’s worth of blogs and haven’t heard the word Sabbath mentioned once. When I blog here more about our ministry than I do our family, I need you to tell me to save all that for and preserve these airwaves for the stuff of life and set some boundaries with work. And I need you to do these things because a well rested, balanced, joyful-in-Christ woman is the only kind of mother who is going to raise Bronwyn well. It’s the only way for my baby girl (who is quickly become a super observant big girl!) to get a right picture of a Holy God. Is she not worth it?

you bet she is.

And so, this is my extraordinarily long way of saying It’s good to have gone, and its good to be back.