Sweeping Dirt

Soon after moving into our house in Lundazi, we began hearing visitors knocking at our gate each morning, around 0700 hours (we’re on military time here in Zambia-that’s 7:00 a.m. for those who are unaccustomed).  The first time we heard someone banging on the metal gate that early, we had no idea who it was, or what they wanted.  But to our pleasant surprise, we had village ladies with various types of fresh fruits and vegetables for sale, and we now look forward to their daily visits.

Another woman came to our gate back then, looking for work.  As it turned out, she lives just a few houses away from us, and she wanted to know if we were looking for someone to work around the house.  Melissa and I were on the fence about hiring someone.  On one hand, we didn’t know if we needed a housekeeper; we didn’t have one in San Antonio.  On the other hand, hiring workers here provides much needed jobs for folks in Lundazi.  We discussed the idea of hiring someone with Reverend Chiboboka, and we learned he had already begun taking applications from some women, so we told our neighbor, Charity, she could go to the CCAP Mission Station to apply.  After gathering several candidates, he led the interview and selection process, with a three-person panel comprised of church folks.  Melissa sat in and observed, but didn’t participate.  When the dust settled, the panel favored the person who Melissa hoped would be selected, our neighbor, Charity.

It’s now been about a month since Charity began working for us.  She arrives each day with a smile on her face, and goes to work.  She’s shown Melissa how to make nshima, and Melissa’s shown her how to make cornbread.  She is also a resource when we are stumped, searching for a Tumbuka word.  Charity shows great pride in her work and does a great job.

One evening, about the same time Charity began working for us, we came home from visiting the Petro family (they are Baptist missionary friends who’ve been in Lundazi just over three years).  As Melissa walked up to the gate to open it, she saw a small snake (njoka) slithering away.  We told ourselves it was some sort of non-venomous grass snake, but the next day I bought a hoe (jembe), with an extra long handle at our neighbor, Chiza Banda’s hardware store.

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Melissa visits with our friends and neighbors, Chiza and Lukwesa Banda, at their hardware store.


Charles’ jembe, with a custom, extra long, handle.

Over the past few years, when we’ve traveled to Congo, I’ve noticed women bent over at the waist, sweeping the the dirt around their houses with a short, handmade broom (chitanyero), and we’ve noticed women doing it here, too.


Charity sweeping with her chitanyero.

If you look at the ground afterwards, you’ll see a series of sweeping arches in the dirt, forming a neat, pretty pattern.  I always thought it was odd for the ladies to sweep the dirt like that, but then someone told me they do it so they can see if a snake has slithered across the swept patterns on the ground, near their house.

I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it makes perfect sense to me, and we were glad to see Charity incorporate that activity into her daily routine.  We also take some comfort in the fact that growing up in South Texas has taught us to keep a close eye on the ground when walking.

Swept patterns in the dirt surrounding our house in Lundazi.

One morning I walked outside and asked Charity if she’d seen any evidence of njoka and she replied, “No.”  Knowing she had lived nearby for several years, I asked her if she’d ever seen any snakes here, and she told me she found a spitting cobra in her house about three months earlier.


A spitting cobra from Mozambique.

I asked her what she did, and she said she killed it with a stick, but not before she spit at the cobra first.  I believe we found the right person for the job! 


Melissa and Charity

With each passing day, we become more settled here.  Now when we walk to town, people call our names and waive at us – we’re making new friends everywhere we go.  Our language studies are progressing well, too, and we are confident in our calling from God to be here with the people of Lundazi and Eastern Zambia.

Maize harvest is underway in the Lundazi area.  We are well into the dry season, or chihanya, and our friends and neighbors are already preparing for zinja, the hunger season, by storing bags of maize in their homes.  As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the effects of malaria are real in Lundazi, and we continually see friends who are recovering from the impact of this disease.  Please pray for the people of Lundazi and Zambia.

We also ask that you please continue to support our work, with your prayers, and with your donations; both are needed.  If you would like to contribute, please visit either, https://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/E200534/, or if you would prefer, donate through Crowdrise, visit http://tinyurl.com/j25nv8b.

May the peace of Christ be with each of you.