Monday, 3 March 2014

Multiply Zambia 2014 Day One - Wednesday

I woke up at 4.00am with Len poking my shoulder and announcing breakfast was about to be served.  Dawn broke.  We landed in to Nairobi JKIA early, which brought no real benefit because we'd only have to hang around longer for our connection at 9.10am.  I must learn to be grateful when things go unexpectedly better than planned.  The airport seems to have recovered from last year's bad fire, and there's a large extension to the terminal block being built.

Most of us just flaked out, but Len went on the trail to find out about data dongles.  I explained that a fun game was to guess the nationality of white people, and not just to assume they're British.  At least Nairobi boasts a decent phone network service.  The onward flight was delayed by an hour, but I was able to give Steven a regular update.

I got jammed in a seat with no view, but Hannah was able to watch Tanzania pass below us for a good two hours.  "You'll enjoy the facilities at Ndola's International Airport," I joked.  What I remember as being a blue tin hut that passes off as Arrivals, was in fact white and blue.  Immigration Control had installed (painfully slow) biometric face and hand capture, but the baggage handling was as chaotic as three years ago.  The afternoon was slipping by. 

Pastor Lazarus took four of us in his Nissan 4x4 seven seater; David and George, Steven's son-in-law, took the remainder in his Toyota equivalent.  I got a phone signal, straight away, too.  Zambia's economy has been moving up, whatever's been happening in UK and elsewhere.  We'd see it in the new building work, in shops (now stocking baby buggies!), and advertising space, too.

We trundled past the now-finished Chinese-built sports stadium, the 'Slave Tree' and Hammerskjold memorial, and soon arrived at the familiar outskirts of Kitwe.  Getting Airtel SIM cards and changing our cash of (new) kwachas was first priority.   We called in at a fast food eatery and ordered KFC (Kitwe Fried Chicken), meanwhile dashing across to the Ecobank before the 4.00pm closing time.  Jimmie was befriending David.  In yet another slow queue, had plenty of time to do so.  On our return, the chicken was cold.  But that's a relative statement, as the outside temperature was 25C.  It dropped dramatically as a thunderstorm broke while we were buying some bottled water. 

Eventually we reached Steven's home, an ex-mining company rented bungalow along an un-made-up road.  The planned sleeping arrangements were Len and me here, Ali and Hannah with George and Yvonne, and Jimmie and Farayi with another church couple, Matthew and Sharon.  This was everything we'd hoped for, and has proved brilliant.  Steven's and Gladys's garden boasts an orange tree, an avocado pear, and two guava trees.  And a rusting Mercedes saloon on bricks round the back.  They live with their younger daughter, Natasha, and Gladys's sister and mother. 

Len and I threw stuff out of our cases all round our room.  Thirty hours of travelling were over.  Len unearthed his top-toxicity insect spray, but we had to retreat to the hallway coughing as he delivered an overzealous blast.  He didn't really know how much would work.  Then he headed for the bathroom for a quick freshen up with the available cold water.  He warned me not to stand in the bath as the tub was rusted through and seemed to be emptying onto the floor.  I hung my mosquito net from the ceiling with its natty pulley system, and pegged down the corners with wire coathangers.

Still no sign of Steven.  Pastor Lazarus had explained that the whole church is in a 28-day season of prayer and fasting (dawn to dusk), with hours of prayer being 'manned' more or less through the night, like a 'prayer watch'.  Steven had been to this at the church, and had called in to see Ali and Hannah before heading home.

I got stuck into some teaching preparation around the theme 'church of the firstborn' (Hebrews 12:23.  Just after 8.00pm my eyelids were drooping and I decided to have a rest.  I knew we'd need to have an intensive planning session with Steven before finally calling it a day.  Steven arrived and didn't want to wake me up, but Len knew the score.  We did a walk-through on everything up to arriving in Malawi next Tuesday.  Steven said that all the stuff that had tantalisingly gone missing - six boxes of books, and the budget advance funds - had all come through just yesterday.  So, we were off!  Steven promised there'd be a prompt start at 10.00am tomorrow.

I slid under my 'tent' a happy man, while more heavy rain beat on the roof.

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