Our day revolved around Choma, Zambia today, the home of the Brethren in Christ in Zambia and the new provincial capital. We found a new South African pizza chain for lunch (whatever); we walked the main street. I think we all felt a bit of the strain of understanding how foreign we are and how daunting being Zambia feels to us. For instance, the hotel just turned on the generator, since the country is on rolling load shedding and we only have power for part of the day — a problem most people do not expect to be fixed for years
But we were with people all day who like to fix things. They show God’s love in practical ways by helping people find inventive ways to survive and even overcome the crushing difficulties they face — love in action, not just words.
More conservation farming
Conrad (do not expect “Zambian” names here) and his team introduced us to three farmers who are being trained to farm in a less invasive and more productive way. Their old methods use more scarce water and expensive fertilizer than necessary. They are committed to maize. It was interesting to tromp around fields and see how people farm.
My favorite was the proud tomato farmer who bragged that last year’s tomatoes were purchased by people as far away as Livingstone. He had taken the risk to learn tomatoes and stop planting corn altogether. The BIC farm consultants helped him with the knowledge he needed to do more with less as MCC supplied them with theory and practical support.
A self-sufficient training program
Todd is an MCC service worker from North America who feels the pull to use his advanced engineering and science degrees to serve in Africa. He was placed in a church-run job training program that has promised its European partners it would become self-sufficient for many years. It isn’t self-sufficient but it will be if he has anything to do about it.
They teach people computer skills, tailoring, wood working, sewing and basic life skills that will help them turn skills into their own business. Most Zambian jobs are entrepreneurial. Probably only 20% of all workers are employed in trackable jobs. Todd got the center starting with Quickbooks so they could see if they made any money. He got involved with the cabinet-making shop when he discovered they made cabinets and furniture with some wet wood that warped. He turned a big shipping container into a solar-powered drying kiln. He is having the time of his life.
What should we do when our compassion seems like a drop in the bucket? — people don’t heed our advice, they misuse the resources we give, they don’t even honor or receive the love and generosity we show! We keep dripping, because the love of God overflows — not necessarily to produce results, although it surely does, but just because that is what God’s love does.
The other Africa posts:
First thoughts from Zimbabwe
Being poor is tough
Going around doing good
Coming up against the powers
The food chain
The work of the Lord
Showing God’s love in practical ways