on the 30th . . .

April 30, 2007

. . . Alexander Thomas was born!!

the perfect pod

April 26, 2007

These unique pods fall from great trees all over this area. And if we can snag them before the monkeys do, the colorful seeds are ready for all manner of artistic uses. This particular one was found by Eva, and she was kind enough to donate it to teacher :-)

roses & a razor

April 22, 2007

I fear I may not be a very good ascetic. Ok—so I know I’m not a good ascetic. And I fear this may also seem rather unspiritual; but the fact of the matter is that God’s grace manifest itself to me in the form of roses & a razor, Indian food & ice cream.
I should probably explain why exactly it feels unspiritual for me to feel this way: the reason I was able to experience such luxuries is that I was passing through the bustling metropolis of Lusaka en route to a “Spiritual Life” missions conference. So my tears of gratitude came more intensely from the outing offered by a generous friend than from the speakers & studies of the conference itself.
That said, the conference was certainly not without enrichment—not in the slightest. But it was the old connections that I benefited most greatly from, since I am not an official member of this missions crew. I was invited to the conference thanks to old family ties. Or, as I was introduced when I arrived, I am a “former missionary kid.” At which point a voice piped in from the audience: “So at what time of life exactly does one cease to be a missionary kid?” The dissenter was answered with a sharp glance of un/-amusement, but a few chuckles were heard shortly thereafter when another member was introduced simply as a “missionary kid.” [Later I asked him how he had earned his lifelong membership in the club].
The conference was full of people eager to share memories they had of my parents & siblings; I, in turn, was eager to listen. It was also filled with sweet times of communion with people my bush-isolated self was unaware I was hungry for.
As for those roses . . . a friend took me to an unusual spot in Lusaka, a small corner to “home” for those of us accustomed to such aesthetic delights as gardens. In the midst of heat, dust, and a city focused on survival, this was a stunningly beautiful rose garden and park. I stood there for a while, stunned at the sight; then I proceeded to walk around, smelling all the roses. What I am guessing is that Zambia is a perfect rose-growing climate, and so when someone makes the effort to grow them, the results tend to be brilliant blooms in vibrant hues. For me, this discovery was intensely moving: a simple discovery that yielded a most immense delight.
And the razor? Well, for approximately 2 months now I have been using a half of a razor, the other half disappearing into the belly of a warthog. And this was the first time since then that I have been able to get to a store in which to purchase such extravagances.
Indian food and ice cream I will assume to be self-explanatory as far as pleasures go. And so concluded the happy week and a half of adventures of a bush resident in the big city :-)


April 21, 2007

What–you don’t know what this is? Why it is, of course, Peter’s tail. Or that is what I decided when I discovered it, in the form of 2 bushes right outside my bedroom window. Perhaps more officially, this is known as a cotton plant–here pictured in the 3 phases I used it as: the seed pod, the opening of it, and the fully opened one. I saw Peter’s Cottontail, as it was right before Easter weekend that I found them, and I was at the time brainstorming for children’s activities. For the bustling family weekend here, I was manning the children’s activity room, and these lovely pods proved to be perfect for turning an average drawing of a bunny into each child’s exciting 3D masterpiece.

where lions sleep

April 7, 2007

It is a sound unlike any I have ever heard before, and a sound impossible to describe with the written word. But once you have heard it, you can never forget it. So my sleep has been sweet, lulled into slumber each night to the soft and steady hum of the lions.
It has been the week of the lions. A small pride of females moved into the camp—no one knows why, as it is unusual for them to choose such a relatively inhabited spot, humanly speaking, for their hunting grounds. But they are most definitely here. And our daily life has been significantly disrupted.
I first realized how much so when a vehicle arrived early Monday to pick us up from school. The driver explained that the lions were right there behind the school, and so it was not safe for us to take our usual 5-minute walk back for lunch break.
For the remainder of that afternoon, we heard consistently intermittent reminders that one large cat was lounging right behind us. She was just hidden enough by the grasses for us to not be able to get a good look, but tauntingly close enough that each rustle in the grasses left us with almost-glimpses.
The next disruption occurred when the subject of my morning runs came up among staff. While I had asked about running before I came, it has ended up being debated off and on, as local folks notice my habitual roaming of the grounds.
It was with trepidation that I awaited the outcome of these deliberations—being an utter addict, if I were to be cut off from my run, I would be a lost soul indeed. Ultimately, to my great relief, it was decided that I could keep my routine, on one condition: I can no longer run with headphones.
So I am, for the first time in about 10 years now of running, getting used to what I call my “silent runs.” It’s been actually quite a nice realization to find that I can adapt to hearing only the sound of my own feet and breath. No doubt when I am once again living in an area where I can run with my iPod, I will welcome its return, but for now, I am happy without.
And so we have come through what I will remember as the week of the lions.

after the rain

April 5, 2007

Before the rain began this afternoon, Eva announced that there would be a rainbow today . . . I was thrilled to see that she was right :-)

Kimba’s first prey

April 4, 2007

Inspired by the recent lion activity we have had around here, Kimba decides to try stalking his first prey. He is clearly still honing his skills, however–this Impala saw Kimba perched on the fencepost and promptly resumed his calm grazing, brazenly flashing his lovely striped behind as if to taunt poor Kimba . . .