Monday 2 May 2011

Dear all.

I have just been sitting on my sofa and been eating a bag of cheese and onion Mcoys - Mmm! This is a special treat as I have just had a visit from my cousin and her friend and they brought me a few bags! I also have a pile of chocolate which is slowly reducing in size. (I am looking for a new hiding place for it as some of the boys have realised where it is!)

Steph and Alana were here for 3 weeks helping with my school and tuition while some of the big guys were off school. On the last day of term we had a sports day, which the children really enjoyed. As a treat they had ice cream after completing the races.

It was a relief to reach the end of term and be able to plan a bit of a break. It has been nice to look back and see that the children have made some progress, they now know about looking at me when I am talking to them and usually manage not to talk and turn around. They are also beginning to understand some English. The oldest ones who can translate have been a very big help to me and repeating myself lots of times does seem to be working! Some of them are making very good progress in reading. One of the big difficulties is teaching them to read in a language they dont understand. Imagine, you dont know what a cat is but someone gives you that word to read and asks you about the cat in the picture. The picture is of a cat, a dog, a tree and a person. What do you do? It would be like me giving you some nyanja to read - chongo iwe - then telling you to do it! (It means be quite, direct translation is 'noise you')

In the last week of school, and after we closed, we had a very sad time here at the farm. One of the boys who was staying with us broke his leg. I took him to a small clinic and then had him transferred to the big hospital here for an operation to pin the bones. This kind of operation is not seen as an emergency so after lots of delaying and looking at possible time frames of 2-3 weeks for the operation to happen, (ignoring the fact that the hospital didnt actually have the pins they needed) we decided to transfer him to a private clinic where they had the pins and could operate much sooner. However during his 2 days at UTH (University teaching hospital) he had developed what they were calling bronchitis. We knew this would delay the operation but still decided to transfer him as he would receive better care at the clinic and be much closer to home for us to go and visit and take people to stay with him. (In hospitals here you always have someone with you to care for you) On Thursday lunchtime we moved him to the clinic and immediately they realised there was something seriously wrong. That didn’t take a doctor though. When I had reached UTH in the morning I had questioned what they were saying as he could hardly breathe but having no medical knowledge you have to trust what they are telling you. It turned out he had pneumonia and should have been in ICU. The only ICU unit in Zambia is at UTH where we had just shifted him from and the doctor that saw him a matter of hours earlier had been saying it was bronchitis. By 16.30 Kondwani looked to be picking up as the clinic had him on oxygen, a drip and had given him a lot of medicine, so I came home and left him with one of the older boys who doesn’t stay with us any more but had offered to spend the night there. At 18.30 in the evening I received a phone call to go back to clinic where, despite their best efforts, Kondwani had passed away. When Kondwani reached the clinic they had done blood tests which revealed very high blood sugars and a few other abnormalities. He hadn’t eaten properly for a few days as UTH kept telling us he might have the operation any time but it is fairly likely he had undiagnosed diabetes. His father died from diabetes and we know it runs in his family. Also there is a possibility there was another medical condition we didn’t know about. We are all still very shocked and keep wondering how an apparently healthy 18 year old, who had just passed his school leaving exams with exceptional results and was excited about studying to be a doctor can die from a broken leg. Although we understand some of the medical reasons and the possibilities of other complications help with our confusion it is still hard to get our heads around. Amongst all of this we have the comfort of knowing that just a few weeks before he passed away he gave his life to Jesus so is in a much better place now. We have to find comfort in that and pray that God will use his death to shake up others who are sleeping. Through this time Christine was in Scotland visiting family and friends. It has been particularly hard for her. As we who were here have been questioning our decisions about his treatment Christine is wondering if she was here would she have seen the signs earlier and managed to intervene in time. The boys have coped quite well. Most of them were away at church camp when he passed away but we had got a message to them through one of the pastors leading the camp. I think it really hit when they came home and he wasn’t around but they were all back together. Kondwani use to spend a lot of time helping them with school work and they all say he often could explain better than the teachers so I am sure that as they go back to school next week they will really miss his help.

Kondwani. Taken a week before he died

Kondwanis funeral was held in Kasama. It is about 11 hours drive from Lusaka. Kondwani had never been a street kid. He was a very bright boy from a poor family and had been chosen to go to a good school in Lusaka. We had been put in touch with him 3 years ago to see if we could help him go to school. He was one of 7 children and we are currently supporting he younger brother at the same school in Lusaka. Mr Banda travelled to the funeral to represent us and Conrad Mbewe (pastor at KBC) and his wife travelled with Penjani, who stays with us, and another brother who is at university here in Lusaka.

Over Easter weekend I was able to go away for a couple of nights. On Saturday morning I flew to Mfuwe with Steph and Alana for a safari holiday. I went on the first evenings safari drive with them where we were very lucky to watch two lions hunting and killing an impala. After that the girls went on 3 more safari drives but I decided to just stay at the lodge reading and relaxing by the pool. It was good to have a chance to go away for a couple of nights after the events of the previous week. Most of the big guys were away at church camp and the timing meant I was home to meet them on Monday afternoon.

This week most of the big guys go back to school. I am having another weeks holiday as we only closed last week. I have had to have the school treated again for termites. This time they decided to take some of the ceiling boards down so I need to replace and paint them then start clearing up all the mess. After that I will sort out what we are going to learn next term.

Church has continued to grow. We have now shifted to a local school to hold the morning service. It is about a 20 minute walk. All of our guys walk across but there is a big group of children who come for Sunday school and some grandmas from our road that we transport. After a couple of weeks in the new location it became clear that the room was not big enough so we are now using a tent. Please pray that people will continue coming and the outreach events that were organised over Easter will encourage people to come along. There are usually between 70 and 80 people coming now. About 40 come from our place. Some people are coming from Kabwata, the main church, to support the church plant, and the rest come from the local area.

Please pray for:
The whole family as we come to terms with Kondwanis death and that God would use it for his glory. Please also pray for his poor mother and the rest of the family.

The boys as they go back to school.

School here, that all the little ones will come back safely and have enjoyed a rest for a couple of weeks. Also for wisdom as I plan for next term.

Church, that it would continue to grow.

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