Hello from Zambia everyone! I have SO MUCH to tell you all! We've been gone for less than a week, but what a week it has been!!!
Our trip over was LONG, but without incident, so that was good. We boarded our flight out of Atlanta at 3:30pm on Wednesday. We took off around 4:15pm, and flew for about 8.5 hours. Then, we landed in Dakar, Senegal at 4:30 am (local time, we lost 4 hours) and several passengers de-planed. Those of us who were flying on to Johannesburg, South Africa were not allowed to get off the plane. At 6:00 am, we once again took off (at this point, we'd been on the plane 10.5 hours) and flew for another 8.5 hours to Johannesburg. That made a total of 19 hours on this one plane!!! Needless to say, we were very happy to land. I have pictures, but the computer I am using is not able to upload them :(. I'll try to upload them elsewhere later this week.
After arriving in Johannesburg, we spent the night. The city is very developed, much like a major European city. However, it is extremely dangerous and we were advised to not venture out after dark, so we were unable to see anything that wasn't on our route to the hotel.
Friday morning, we left Johannesburg and flew to Livingstone, Zambia (finally!). Zambia is incredibly beautiful! The sun has shone in a cloudless sky every day we have been here. That made for a GREAT view flying in. Our accomodations are nice, and we can see the mist from Victoria Falls from where we are staying. The weather is fantastic... around 75 to 80 degrees during the day and in the 50s at night.
The people that we have been working with are warm, welcoming, and friendly. We held a special meeting on Saturday, met again on Sunday (once for worship and once for a youth devo), and today we spent the day at the school with them. One thing that really stands out to me is the singing. On Saturday, when they were singing praises to God in their native language of Tonga, I was taken aback by how beautiful it was. It was loud, full of emotion, and harmonized BEAUTIFULLY!!! We do have a lot of trouble understanding the Africans (and they us), but they are patient with us as we ask them to repeat things multiple times :-).
One quick story I'd like to tell is about a man named Chilala. He is an older gentleman that lives in a nearby village. On Saturday, he walked over 2 hours to hear God's word proclaimed. As he was leaving to walk home around dusk, he told us that he must hurry because if it got much later he would be in danger of being trampled by elephants on his walk home. Yes, ELEPHANTS! The village where he lives, called Mukuni, is out in the bush. We decided to drive him home in this very rickety van we've been using. Although it wasn't far (about 12 miles), it took us almost an hour to drive him there because the quality of the roads is horrible. We were able to see the grass hut he lives in with no running water, no electricity, no heat (except the fire they built)... such a different way of life that what we live. It's almost impossible to imagine.
We've eaten some tradional African meals, and they have been okay :-). In Johannesburg, we had ostrich (surprisingly very tender and a good flavor). Here in Zambia, we've have some sort of drinkable corn (sounds weird, I know), and a dish called Nshima. Nshima was very similar to grits, only quite a bit thicker, but about the same taste. They served it to us with cooked cabbage, tomatoes, and maybe some other vegtables. It served as almost a gravy because they left all the juices from the veggies in. We've also had some more "westernized" meals that we've eaten out here in town, including pizza (similar to home, but different too) and cheeseburgers and "chips" (fries). We've been eating a lot of bread during other times. Tonight we had some excellent cheese with our bread. They really just don't eat much here like we do.
Like I said, I have so many pictures I want to share of everything I talked about (including the food), but no way to do it right now. Also, I'm not able to get on anyone else's blog because this computer is incredibly slow. However, if I'm able to access the internet somewhere else later this week, I'll try to catch up on everyone :-)! Accessing the internet is not easy in these parts. Love to all!