Blog -Summer and Autumn 2019
Where must I start? It is some considerable time since I posted on my blog and there is much to tell of the Lord’s great faithfulness over these months, His loving care, His timely provision for our needs and His protecting hand. Truly we have a wonderful Saviour! Zephaniah 3 v 5 ‘He faileth not.’
I returned to Chit in late June, travelling via Dubai and Solwezi where Timothy Beer kindly collected me. That meant it was possible to have a good ‘stock-up’ shop as I was travelling by road all the way up to Chit and weight of goods was not an issue. Tim came up in my vehicle which had been left at Loloma pending my arrival. Marian Ronald and Rebekah Flynn (both from Canada) were away during late spring/early summer, so I was staying at Canada House on my own for a couple of days, apart from the cat who enjoyed the company.
I was back at Chit in time for Owen Speichinger’s third birthday – celebrated in Zambian style with a nshima lunch, followed by birthday cake. Owen is the adopted son of Kait and Joey Speichinger and now has twin sisters who have just turned one year. Kait and Joey took him when he was just a few days old after his mother died. Here he is with his birthday cake.
In July my house-worker Christine left Chit to commence nursing training in Solwezi. For her it is an ambition fulfilled. I was able to help her with a few text books and other essentials for her course. Her mother works for Julie-Rachel Elwood in the house, so I get regular updates on Christine’s progress. Christine herself also telephones me from time to time. She is a believer in assembly fellowship and has settled well into the Valley Road assembly in Solwezi. She seems very happy there and told me that she had learnt ‘a lot’ since she has been attending the gatherings there. She is a lovely girl with potential for the Lord to use. Please pray for her that she will be preserved from worldly influences in the city and go on for God.
The Lord graciously undertook with regard to the renewal of my work permit last summer. It was all very straightforward and very efficient for Zambia. In the two years since I last renewed it, the whole process has been computerised, so that it has moved from the old passport-style book to a plastic card. The permit was issued quickly, within 3 weeks, but I was not in Lusaka to collect it until the end of August when I was on my way back to UK. You have to go to immigration in person to collect new permits these days – and they take passport photos etc etc on the spot. The trick is to get there early and so avoid the long queue that builds up later in the day. My friend Anna Speichinger kindly took me first thing and I was number two in the line so was sorted quickly. The new permit covers me until July 2021 – but the Lord might have returned before then!
Over the summer Jonny Dalton was back out at Chit, this time bringing with him his wife, Hannah, who was spending part of her medical elective with us. Jonny was only able to stay for 2 weeks, but made the best of his time, helping both in the hospital and in the assembly. I hope Hannah found her elective profitable; she certainly had a lot of opportunities and it was good to have her company. She came with me for a clinic trip to Kabompo/Loloma in late July – a good opportunity to see another mission hospital and station. While we were there, the Luvale (Bible) revision was in session at Kabompo -the team of local brethren and missionaries is now slowly working through the Old Testament verse by verse. The new Luvale New Testament is in print. The team take a great deal of care to get the most accurate and meaningful translation possible, so that the people can understand the Word of God and the truth it contains. They draw on the original Hebrew and Greek and consult in depth with local brethren who are native Luvale speakers and who also have a good command of English, so that the best translation of the text it chosen. You can imagine – how would you translate ‘though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’ (Isaiah 1 v 18) for someone who has never seen snow and has no concept at all of what it is like. It is a mammoth task but so worthwhile. The picture shows Luvale revision in session.
A notable visit was that of Dr Samuel Simonyi-Gindele and Jesse, the third son in the family, from Angola. Elizabeth along with Ethan, Seth and Abigail had gone to Vancouver in the summer to settle Ethan there as he was commencing university. Sam and Jesse were on their way to Namibia for a short break while the others were away. It was so good to see them, though we missed Elizabeth and the others. The visit was all too short – just 24h but we had time to catch up and Samuel was able to help with the Wednesday out-patient clinic. in the evening we all enjoyed some star-gazing through Dr McAdam’s telescope – we saw the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. The first of the two photos below shows me with Samuel and Jesse (Zambezi river in the background) and the supper table during their visit, left to right: Hannah and Jonny Dalton, David Galloway (visiting surgeon from Scotland), Samuel, Jesse.
While at Loloma, I met a Romanian midwife who was visiting for a month and seeking the Lord’s leading for her longer-term future. Tim (Beer) also took us to visit the older folk who live in little houses on the mission property; some of them have found a place of safety there, having escaped from their families who were accusing them of witchcraft. I was good to be able to share with them a little from God’s Word. The clinics at Kabompo were large and interesting as usual – many cerebral palsy cases, as well as a teenager with a spinal cord injury and many attendant probIems. I decided to take him back to Chit with me for further management – it was a good decision. We were able to work on some physiotherapy and sort out a wheelchair he can propel himself as well as attending to other issues. We were also able to visit with Mr Mukwatu in his village – he is the gentleman with the two sons with cerebral palsy and who was so very unwell when we saw him in March, the man who seemed to have a clear understanding of what it meant to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. His condition was evidently worshipping and this time I shared with him a few thoughts on Psalm 23. While I was in UK in September, I heard that he had passed away; we trust that he had in reality exercised true saving faith in the Lord Jesus, for without this we are all lost
In early August we very sadly lost a dear little boy from Angola who died on the operating table. He had a large disfiguring facial tumour which was growing quite aggressively. If the surgery had been successful, it would only have been palliative, so that he was most definitely spared further suffering, but it was a difficult experience for everyone involved. It was particularly sad to attend his burial on the following day, a Lord’s day; we were all so touched by what had happened.
In August we received another little boy (Muzala) from Angola, sent by Ruth and Jonathan Singleton who are commended to the Lord’s work from the Four Marks assembly in Hampshire. Ruth had found him in the village where he lived with his grandmother, his parents having died some time ago. He had a badly infected leg, probably exacerbated by the administration of traditional medicines and was very reluctant to leave his little hut. One of the beleivers from Angola brought him and his granny over to Chit for treatment. He had just missed the July orthopaedic visit and so had to wait until late September before he was seen and had surgery for his underlying bone infection. However, it gave us the change to give him a good course of antibiotics and, importantly, to get to know him. He was quite a character! Anything that was going on, he was involved somewhere and always enjoyed good fun. He loved a game of ball; you only had to mention the word and he was off to the door as fast as his gammy leg would carry him! He was friends with everybody and quite the life and soul of the party – very different from how he was in Angola. He was still on the ward when I returned to Chit in October, having had surgery a few weeks earlier. His leg healed rapidly and it was a joy to send him home healthy in late November. He always enjoyed the Friday children’s meeting on the ward, participating to the full – leaping around vigorously doing the actions to the choruses. We pray that he will respond to the Gospel message which he heard while on the ward. Just before he went home, I received several boxes of shoes sent out by believers from the Millbrook assembly in Southampton. The first pair I pulled out were a brand new pair of Clarks shoes and in just his size. He was thrilled. I thanked the Lord for His provision just at the right time. The photo shows him in his new shoes on the day he left for home.
Ever since I first went to Chit, I have been helping Rhonda Markle (Canada) in the regular Gospel outreach on the female wards. Over the early autumn months I had an exercise to take on the responsibility for the Friday afternoon children’s meeting on the ward, which wasn’t always happening for a variety of reasons. The Lord provided a interpreter for me – I’m afraid my Luvale isn’t up to that at the moment. One of the nurses, Rhodah Sakuwaha, who is also a sister in assembly fellowship, has taken this on and I greatly appreciate her help. We are working together very well so far and we have a good relationship – very necessary in an interpreter because you don’t really know what they are telling the listeners and have to trust them to translate faithfully. She is very committed and doesn’t like to miss a Friday afternoon, always giving me good warning on the rare occasion she cannot make it so that we can find an alternative. Rhonda (Markle) brings the choruses and colouring for after the Bible story and I usually do the speaking. We did Creation through to Noah and the ark last autumn, finishing up in December with the Christmas story. Muzala, the little boy from Angola, always enjoyed the children’s meetings, singing happily and listening to the story. Rhonda took the picture below of Rhodah and mye in action.
We have all been very concerned about Tim and Joy Beer’s daughter, Kara, who fell from the exercise bars in her brothers’bedroom and fractured a couple of cervical vertebrae, thus rendering her cervical spine unstable. Amazingly the fracture was not picked up until five weeks later; in that interval she had been as active as usual, with activities including diving into the swimming pool at Chit. The Lord preserved her from harm – it doesn’t bear to think about what could have been…. Once the fracture was recognised she was med-evac’d out to S Africa where she underwent formal spinal stabilisation surgery in a hospital in Johannesburg. The Lord answered much prayer on her behalf and she came through well with no neurological deficit. She and the rest of the family are now back in Loloma and life has returned to a more normal level for them. The believers in Jo’burg were particularly helpful and supportive of them all.
Before I left Zamba in early December, I spent a Lord’s day in Lusaka. It seemed like a good half of the missionaries from NW province were also there, along with a couple of nursing students visiting from N Ireland who were on their way home. It was a joy to meet up with Murray and Grace Poidevin (Lukulu) again as well as Paul and Eunice Poidevin who are based in Kabompo (Paul is very involved in the Luvale Bible revision work). The Lord’s supper at the smaller assembly in Avondale was inundated with us all but they enjoyed the help and support and we enjoyed being with them to remember the Lord. David Croudace from Zambezi gave a word during the ministry meeting and Shawn Markle from Chitokoloki preached the Gospel later. We were out for lunch with some of the local believers and enjoyed fellowship in the home. I left for the airport later that night and headed back to the UK, for Christmas and New Year.
As I wrote this blog, I am preparing to return to Chit once again – from later January till just before Easter. I greatly value the prayers of the Lord’s people for this next visit and would like to share a few specific prayer points:-
The regular Gospel outreach both in the hospital and in the locality – the village Gospel meetings and the English Gospel meeting both held on the Lord’s day afternoon
The Tuesday evening Bible study -that greater interest will be shown and that those who do attend will be encouraged to study the Scriptures for themselves and grow in the Lord.
The assembly, that the Lord and His word will be honoured in the gatherings and that the Lord will raise up godly elders with true shepherd hearts.