This is my way of giving updates. It’s not really a “blog” but more of an “update spot”. Just thought I should prepare anyone who chooses to read this.
HERE WE GO.
First off: thanks Jenn for bringing me to the airport. Sioux Falls to Chicago. Chicago to Washington DC. DC to Dakar, Senegal — to drop off passengers and refuel — to Johannesburg, South Africa. Stayed the night in a gorgeous hotel. Thankful for wifi at that moment to share with family and friends that I had arrived safely. Thankful for an air conditioned room as it’d be awhile before that would happen again. Thankful for a hot shower – as there would certainly be no such thing as a shower, let alone a hot one (think ice bucket challenge minus the ice — because that’s not here either).
Flight in the morning to Livingstone, Zambia (surprise – we’re not in Choma) … home sweet home for the next 3 months.
Went to base. Met my family for the next three months (but probably more accurately – they’ll be family for life).
Tuesday morning we were woken up with pots and pans at 4:25 AM. We were blindfolded, loaded on the van, and driven to a drop off point. 20+ minutes later we got to take the blindfolds off (still darker than dark outside — but oh are the stars extra beautiful and bright here. And the moon. My Snapple facts tell me that a full moon is 9 times brighter than a half moon. Well this half moon was at least that much brighter than any moon I see back home). Anyway – tangent, my bad. After 1.5-2 hours of walking we reached our destination: the campgrounds of an organization called Loves Door, beautifully located on the Zambezi River. We were put into teams, mine being the Spartans: Michael, Prince, Limpo, and myself. And no, mom, the team name had nothing to do with East High. 🙂
Lots of challenges, frustration, and laughter later: we finished. We caught and killed three chickens (by “we”, I obviously don’t mean me — Olivia and Prince caught them – Hannah, Michael, and Will killed them). Fresh chicken and nshima for dinner. Delicious.
We did skits by the campfire and just enjoyed time together. We also played some “Boom Suckers” (Abby wasn’t sure what the name really was…but it was a lot of fun).
Side note: Zambian winters are cold when the sun is down and hot when the sun is up.
Winter showed his face that night – a tent and thin sleeping bag really didn’t do the trick. And hippos came to join us at our camp as we slept — that wasn’t terrifying at all.
Wednesday morning we walked back. The walk was definitely more enjoyable the first time: cool temperature and beautiful stars. The second time: hot sun. Just a lot of hot sun. We had most of the afternoon off, so Sharon helped me with the conversion rate between Kwacha and Dollars and we went to town.
Thursday we heard the stories of Eyram, Abby, and Westin. And that afternoon we’d be working on our own story lines. So to set aside time to do this, we were brought to The Royal Livingstone. Google it. It’s breathtaking. A beautiful hotel on the Zambezi near Victoria Falls with zebras roaming freely. So cool. Ice cream at Hungry Lion and then Michael, Hannah, Limpo and I colored (thanks Becca and Jessa for providing a detailed coloring book).
Friday I was third to share my story line. Everyone shared their stories today and something evident in all our stories was that God works in mighty ways. He breaks the chains of bondage, no matter the form, and it was amazing to see Him overcoming obstacles in the lives of my friends. To end the sessions, Mikey had Emily, Sharon, Lusanda, and I come to the front so they could pray as a group over us and our family members going through sickness. There’s nothing more powerful than prayer, and a room of Zambians and Americans praying together on the behalf of our mothers and Sharon’s brother…I’m speechless (needless to say: I cried).
Weekends are fairly free … so my teammates and I are sitting drinking milkshakes and enjoying some internet time. Also, if you read this, just know, these more than likely won’t be coming every week. Just wanted to let you know I’m safe, sound, and excited.
||ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Gratopp • 2015 International Immersion Intern