Thursday, October 25, 2018

Work - Fly - Repeat

Three months have come and gone. Between us, we have spent 22,000 miles in the air traveling for work to Malawi, Ethiopia, Niger and the USA, plus another 13,500 miles in the air for leave in August to the States.  With our church, we managed to organize and lead this years' Youth Retreat and finalize the pastor search. All the day to day things have kept us busy- and it appears that the coming months may be just as busy for us, but only God knows for sure. Thanks for taking the time to read this blog.

August USA Trip                                                                 08-08-18
Since we have a Betteridge wedding to attend in November, and it would be difficult to take an entire month off, we decided to spend our other two weeks of leave in the US this past August! This was our first trip back since we moved to Lusaka in June 2017, so I was particularly excited to catch up with friends and family after being gone for 14 months. It was a quick trip, made even busier with the need for both of us to do some work while we were there, but we are so grateful it worked out to go.
We spent our first week in PA, meeting up with friends in Lancaster, spending time with family and friends in Carlisle and Mechanicsburg, and trying to visit the places (mostly restaurants) we had missed for the last year (El Rodeo!!). My brother, sister-in-law, and lovely niece came from MN for a few days- it was so special to have some quality time with them! We also planned to be in PA for my birthday, so for the first time in many years, I got to spend it with many, many people in my family! Both sets of grandparents came, my aunts from NJ and VA made the trip, plus having a few Betteridge siblings too- it was so fun to have everyone there all at once! I also loved the chance getting to hang out with my best friends that evening- it is certainly one of my favorite birthdays in recent memory.
For our second week, we traveled to the Betteridge beach house in Madison, CT. We loved getting to spend time with more Betteridge siblings, niece and nephew, and parents, as well as take a bit of a breather from all of the craziness. The beach house is a wonderful place that has so many memories from so many years; we are grateful to be able to spend some quality, peaceful time there. We finished that week off back in PA, before flying back to Zambia on Saturday. Quick, but good! 
I loved spending my birthday with so many of my family!

We had a wonderful time with many of the Betteridge crew in Madison!

Home                                                                                    08-26-18
Walking through our sliding glass door into our home in Lusaka was such a relief for me.  We were home after a long journey from America and it was good to be back in our own place.  The last two or so weeks were so filled with seeing friends and family, eating food, and all the things that go with ‘home-leave’ that it was comforting to be home. 
I was a bit surprised that this trip to the States was so exhausting and overwhelming.  Was it that I became too peopled out? Was it that I did not have our regular downtime? Was it all the talking and listening, as we used the short time we had to catch up with all our friends and family?  Or was it something much deeper?

Every time I return to the US I feel like more and more of an outsider.  I look like I belong, I talk like I belong, but more and more I fall behind in keeping up with all the social cues and expectations.  I drive slower & less direct (unlike my NY upbringing). I forget the process at the grocery check-out. I feel uncomfortable with the flash and awe in some of the churches that in the past I would’ve felt right at home.  I also realize that so much has happened while we have been in Lusaka for the last 14 months, since our last visit to the States.

Each year that passes by, I change and transform into less and less of an American. I don’t think I am becoming more Burkinabe, Ethiopian or Zambian, but more like a nomad unsure of really where I am supposed to grow roots or who is supposed to be my community.  There is a freedom to it all, but for someone who is happy to dig into the rut and plow on ahead, it can be hard at times.  I am definitely becoming more like Danielle as it comes to change and travel, but for some reason I feel like she is becoming more like me, wanting to have a place to settle and have close family around. 
I guess we will continue taking each season of life that God gives us and keep stepping forward into each new adventure ahead.  It is an exciting journey filled with joy, sadness, laughter, tears, encouragement, frustrations, hope, doubt, peace, and anxiety, but it is all wrapped up in God’s arms of goodness and love.

(Please know that I do love each time we get to see our family and friends in the States, its just hard knowing I should belong but not always feeling like I fit anymore. So maybe that just means you should come visit us in Zambia...)

Work Trip: Andrew to Malawi                                            09-01-18
Five days after returning to Lusaka, Danielle drove me to the airport and I flew east to Malawi.  CURE Malawi was having an eMi ( team on site for a Master Site Plan project. It was a busy trip with very long 12+ hour days. But it was fun getting to work with so many engineers and architects to create plans and strategies for CURE Malawi as CURE continues to look to improve care, excellence, and sustainability at each of its hospitals. Plus ,I always enjoy trips to Malawi, because I get to spend time with my counterpart, Jon and his family.  It was a productive trip, but even better when I was back home with Danielle.

Working hard with the team in Malawi

Work Trip: Danielle to Niger                                               09-24-18
I finally got to do a bit of travelling for work too! My co-project leader and I decided it would be best to have some face-to-face time to get things accomplished. He had visited Zambia in July, so this time, I got to visit him in Niger! I have heard about West Africa for so many years, from my parents’ time in Liberia and Andrew’s time in Burkina Faso, so I was excited to finally be able see it for myself. West Africa is definitely very different than the parts of Eastern and Southern Africa that I have seen more consistently. Thankfully, it wasn’t too hot while I was there (plus air conditioning is a wonderful thing!), but it definitely had a desert-y feel with all the reddish-brown dirt and windy days. I spent my time at the CURE Hospital in Niamey, where my colleague, Moutari, is based- it was very cool to see another one of the CURE hospitals and the work that they do. Plus, Moutari and I were very productive on our own project, so it was a great week! 
With the Niger team: Moutari (R), Moussa and Saratou

Another Work Trip: Andrew to Ethiopia and the US               09-19-18
And within a week and a half of returning from Malawi, I was on a plane again, this time to Ethiopia to check in person on the progress of construction on the second phase of the Rehab building.  I was in Ethiopia a few days and then traveled from their to the States for a work conference in Pittsburgh.  It was during this week in Pittsburgh that Danielle was in Niger so at least we were both away at some of the same time. Though its hard that she had to leave for Niger while I was away and return while I was still away.  But thankfully we both had great trips. And I am so thankful for the friends and colleagues I have in Ethiopia from living there. And for Danielle's parents who were willing to pick and drop me back off at the airport at the beginning and end of my trip to the US – not to mention taking me out for El Rodeo.
El Rodeo!

ARK Retreat: Crossfit Challenge!                                      10-12-18
As we have mentioned previously, we have taken on a bit more responsibility with the youth group at our church. This culminates in the annual youth retreat, which jump-starts our theme for the year. This year, our theme is Crossfit Challenge! We discussed how spiritual disciplines are a part of our relationship with God (vertical) and our relationship with our community (horizontal). We focused on the spiritual disciplines of prayer and worship this weekend and were very encouraged to hear that even though these are probably the two most practiced disciplines, there was so much that was new and challenged the youth. Sometimes getting back to the basics opens up all sorts of avenues for growth.  Please keep them in your prayers as they live out what they learn.

It was a busy weekend with 40 students attending- we had lots of fun with games, campfires, pool time, and fabulous food. Andrew and I led the sessions and then the students had some time to practice the discipline we talked about, before having discussion time in their small groups. We had an amazing team of leaders who loved on the kids all weekend and helped keep the chaos under control. Overall, it was a great weekend and we are grateful for the chance to do ministry together.

(I must note that Danielle was amazing as she coordinated this retreat!  I am always amazed at her ability and strengths of organizing events.  She did such a great job of delegating and orchestrating the other leaders' roles (and I am very thankful for all 10+ adults who volunteered and helped make this weekend possible).  Danielle did a fantastic job which I cannot say enough.  I am thankful I only had to worry about writing the sessions before the retreat. My wife is the best.)
Checking in students

In the coming months we plan to dive into a new spiritual discipline each month we meet.  And we will be asking some of the other leaders to share in the teaching as well.  We are excited to see how God uses this year to challenge and grow all of us in Loving Him and Loving our Community around us.

Happy, but tired leaders!

Celebrating our second anniversary                                   10-22-18
The best part about anniversaries is that you typically take time to stop and reflect on the past year.  The theme of this past year for us has been a dichotomy: Settle-in and Travel.
Lusaka has been the longest place we have lived since being married.  It is the place that we have let roots grow as we connect with the community around us.  At church, we have been able to help regularly with tech team (sound and projection), be on a pastor call/search committee, and the monthly Ark Youth Group was handed over to us to lead.  At work, we continue to be given more responsibilities and did lots of traveling (me more than Danielle but she still went to both Kenya and Niger).  We continue to grow in our ability to host visitors both family and friends, with a total of more than 12 weeks of visitors over the year. For fun, Andrew had a few Man Nights with the guys and Danielle had a few ladies events, while Andrew was traveling.

With each passing month, it seemed like there were always plane tickets on the docket.  For work, Andrew travelled to Niger-twice, Uganda, Ethiopia-twice, Malawi, and the USA. For work, Danielle travelled to Kenya and Niger.  For fun and rest, we flew to Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and the USA (not to mention day trips to Botswana and Zimbabwe).  We also got to visit a handful of Zambia's amazing National Parks – Mosi-Oa-Tunya , South Luangwa, and Kafue – Seeing Rhinos, Elephant, Lions, Giraffe,  Cape Buffalo, Hartebeast, Zebra, Hippos, Hyena, Africa Wild Dogs, Fish Eagles, and so much more.  Plus, we still have continued our Date Night Tuesdays and discovered many fun and tasty restaurants in Lusaka.

It's been quite the year of balancing travel with settling well in Lusaka. I think we are still figuring out work travel and being apart, but we have also noticed that many of the expat community also travel a considerable amount as well. It is a whirlwind season of life, but we are so thankful to be able to do it together.

This year, we got to celebrate our anniversary over a long weekend with our good friends, in Kafue National Park.  We stayed in safari tents (definitely glamping), went on game drives, a boat cruise, and  had a chance to just rest and recoup from the busyness of the last few weeks. As an added bonus, we were so far out in the middle of the bush that we didn’t have cellphone service, thus completely unplugged for a few days, which was a nice refreshment.
If this last year was a year of settling-in and travel, we are looking forward to see what this third year of our marriage will bring.
Safari Tents are the best!
So much fun with Drew, Amanda, and Lillian!

Work Update: Danielle
Work has been very busy for me in the last couple months as we are gearing up for our first pilot training! With my awesome team, I have been compiling the content for three courses for our parent advisors (also called counselors)- we are offering a Basic course, Advanced course, and Spiritual course. We have about 13 participants and 12 trainers coming to Zambia from Nov 5-15 for a very busy, but hopefully good training!

Work Update: Andrew
Work has been very busy, not only because of all the travels, but because we have a lot of work going on here in Zambia as well.  We have a lot of smaller maintenance projects happening along with replacing our water tower, and medical incinerator and all sorts of other projects. Plus, we are finalizing the last details for renovating the Outpatient Department building and Operating Theatre building.  There has been progress made on the Niger solar project, which is exciting. We hope to have that all wrapped up in January of 2019.  Really, all I can ask for is wisdom, guidance, and perseverance to see all the projects around the network through. I am so thankful and truly blessed to be able to do so many different aspects of engineering.  It's amazing to reflect on all the awesome things that God has allowed me to play a small piece in, I am amazed that God chooses people like me to be co-laborer's in His Kingdom here and into eternity.

Interesting Articles
In lieu of a book club this post, here are a few articles that we have found interesting, insightful and/or good conversation starters:

  • NY Times - "How Do Christians Fit Into the Two-Party System? They Don’t - Tim Keller
    "The Gospel gives us the resources to love people who reject both our beliefs and us personally. Christians should think of how God rescued them. He did it not by taking power but by coming to earth, losing glory and power, serving and dying on a cross."
  • NY Times - "How to Really Help Children Abroad" - Tina Rosenberg
    "This is an argument for a little less heart and more head. To feel deeply, care deeply — these emotions are why people choose to go on volunteer trips. But we confuse our own caring for help. In pursuit of those emotions, we spend money, time and good will on things that are often of no value to the people we care about — and are, at worst, the very opposite of true service."
  • The Impending Death (And Rebirth) of Cool Church - Carey Nieuwhof
    "If people aren’t into church, it doesn’t matter how cool, hip or trendy your church is, people won’t be that interested. You behave this way. If you’re on a health kick, you’re not going to order the burger and fries, even if they are the best in town. And if you’re not on a healthy kick, the spinach, arugula, kale salad with tuna isn’t going to capture your imagination, no matter how healthy it is."

PS:  Of all the things that I have seen on Safari Game Drives, at this point one of my favorites has been seeing a Dazzle of four Zebra galloping together across the Busanga plains for a couple kilometers. They were just streaking together having a run for fun, chasing after each other and it was a sight to be remembered. (I find it funny that this is one of my favorite sightings since I have seen so many Big Game but striped horses really do dazzle on the sunny plains of Zambia).

PPS: Grad school update- I have just started my fifth class in the program. This one is focused on novels. It is interesting to study an entire genre, not just a particular piece of literature, so I am excited about this class in particular. I am also just about halfway through the program, so that's pretty exciting as well! 

PPPS: Next month, we are excited to be able to celebrate Seth and Amy’s wedding and be in the States for Thanksgiving! Much of this trip will be focused on the wedding, but hopefully we can see a few of you that are in and around PA.  Also, if you are interested, Carlisle is doing a Turkey Trot 5k Thanksgiving morning that we are going to be participating in.

PPPPS:  A few more photos from the 14 hour game drive:

Friday, July 27, 2018

Family, Elephants, and Beaches

It is hard to believe it’s already been two months since our last blog.  Time seems to both have stood still and flown.  We have kept up with travelling and enjoying new places around this beautiful continent and have been kept very busy with our jobs.  Thanks for taking the time to read our blog and keeping us in your prayers.

Family Visit #2                                                                          05-25-18
We had the fabulous privilege to have a second family visit - and so soon after the first one! Danielle’s parents, Tom and Gina Hale spent the last week of May and first week of June with us in Zambia. They survived a bit of excitement in their trip to get here (running through Joburg airport to get those bags and recheck them in all in under an hour...)! We had a fabulous couple of weeks to show them around our world a little bit here in Lusaka, as well check out some cool new places. 

Since we had only had two weeks, we wanted to utilize our time well, so we spent the middle weekend traveling a bit around Zambia. Our first stop was Macha, a village and mission station in South Central Zambia. Many of you may remember my post about visiting there in January; this time was just as fun with being able to show Andrew and my parents around as well. My mom was especially excited to visit Macha, as she had also grown up hearing all about the hospital, nursing school, and research project all located on the compound. Our lovely hosts, Corrie and Eric Thuma, who serve with Push the Rock, gave us a lovely place to stay and showed us around a bit. We happened to overlap with the May Term Messiah College cross-cultural trip, so we got to jump on a hospital tour with them as well. We also walked to the BIC church and saw the sign “Founded in 1906,” it was amazing to think about the years of history and faithful people who have walked that same hallowed ground.

We traveled on the rest of the way to Livingstone on Saturday and tried to fit in as many as activities as possible. Our highlight for this day was getting to ride elephants! While it’s not widely advertised because the elephants are not free and in the wild, it was still a pretty awesome opportunity. We rode on the elephants for a couple kilometers, with the most challenging aspect of trying to stay balanced with their awkward gait, then at the end, we got to feed them too! The elephant that Andrew and I rode was leading the pack, because she was the matron, which meant she determined where we went. However, since she was also snacking along the way, grabbing leaves and bark off the trees as we went past, her distractions made a bit of a start and stop filled walk. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience that we enjoyed sharing with Mom and Dad. 

Obviously since we were in Livingstone, we had to go see Victoria Falls. Just like our visit in April, we got soaked on the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides! While in Zimbabwe, we spent a bit more time exploring, and on recommendation from Corrie, we had lunch at the fabulous Three Monkeys Pub. As we were walking back to the Zambia side, we had a 'fun' experience of getting a warning charge from an elephant. It was a pretty exciting afternoon 😊 Andrew and I have done Livingstone a few times now, but it has been a wonderful experience each time.

For the rest of their time in Lusaka, Mom and Dad visited a few ministries and spent some time here at the hospital. They joined us for normal life things, like church and small group, but also explored a bit of the city. We saw baby elephants being fed, giraffes as we drove by, and enjoyed a nice brunch at Lilayi Lodge.  They were so kind to help out with some of our spring cleaning around the house. Having family visit is such a special thing and now we have had the blessing of having both of our parents come! Who is next??

Here is the trip from my dad’s perspective: 
“We’re Making Memories”- a common phrase around the Hale household when things happened—sometimes the situation was happy and sometimes not so much.  But those are the stories that turn into family lore that are shared around the table for years to come.

Our trip started off with several of those moments. When we showed up at the Atlanta airport check-in desk and learned that we couldn’t check our luggage all the way to our destination, we realized that we were giving God an opportunity to work right at the very beginning of our trip. We didn’t allow enough lay-over time in Johannesburg to go through immigration, claim our luggage, check-in to our next flight, go back through security and immigration and run through the airport to the gate, so we were anticipating an exciting few hours. Danielle had a dream that somebody would show up and help guide us through. It turns out, that person was wearing the orange uniform of their CAP personnel. We ran through the airport (well, running may be a strong word) and managed to arrive gasping at the gate for Lusaka before they closed the door.

Once in Lusaka, we were greeted warmly by Andrew and Danielle’s smiling faces. We had been looking forward to this trip since A & D left the year before. This was our chance to see their world, and also to add another (fancy) visa to our passports. We were not disappointed!

Some things tied well into shared experiences from before, like the markets and the crowded streets that reminded us of our time in Ethiopia. Poverty was never far away, but a thriving middle and upper class was also evident. Driving the city streets was crazy like many cities, though they drive on the other side of the road there. Even being related to the tech crew at church on Sunday was reminiscent of our lives in other places and times.

But there were lots of new things to see and discover as well.  Getting to step foot in the Beit CURE 
Hospital and see the work that we have heard about for so long was inspiring. It was fun to walk into a building that Andrew had designed for the work that was going on there. It was fascinating to watch a few of the surgeries as doctors straightened limbs and strengthened bones on children that we had played with the day before.  It was good to sit in Danielle’s office with the map of Clubfoot Clinics across Africa on the wall showing how she is part of a much larger team making an impact in many places that she hasn’t even seen yet.

We have heard of the work at Macha for years and have dear friends who have worked there. What a joy to visit the people there and see that work which has made a significant impact in that community and beyond. Running into friends from Messiah College who were there for a cross-cultural class was a bonus.

We are very thankful that Andrew and Danielle were willing to do the tourist events with us (their third time in as many months)—driving across the country (which is no small feat in most African countries) to see Victoria Falls (both on the Zambian side and the Zimbabwe side thanks to that ‘fancy’ visa I mentioned earlier).  We enjoyed the “Betteridge Tours” in the game park, seeing animals that one does not see in South Central PA (giraffes, wildebeest, zebra (which rhymes with Debra), impalas and more). We stayed in “safari tents” (that aren’t anything like the tents of my boy scout days) with monkeys and hippos outside.

Most of all, we enjoyed meeting their people and seeing the work they are involved in.  We visited a school and a private library—both run by friends of Danielle and Andrew.  We heard of the work of several others at meals and Bible Studies we were a part of. The opportunities to serve are great. We entered into conversations about the “missionaries” that we know of years gone by and how they compare and contrast with the work of today.  Truly, the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.

Memories.  We made lots of them and will enjoy recounting them around the dinner table for years to come.

Back in Ethiopia for a Week                                                          06-11-18
In June, I travelled back to Ethiopia for work to help kick-off the second phase of the Rehab building – completing the ground and first floors of the building and the site works.  I was there for a week and it’s amazing to see how much Addis has changed since we last visited in November.  The streets are filled with more cars, more buildings are climbing to the sky, but there are still so many familiar faces. 

 Work kept me busy during the day, but at night I got to join man night, have dinners with friends, and just catch up with life in Addis.  As a bonus, Jon was there for the week for a different CURE initiative. It is always nice to get to work together in person.  I was thankful for the time to be back.  A lot of progress was made on the project for work and I got to enjoy some amazing Ethiopian food and drink some wonderfully strong coffee.  I look forward to getting to go back later this year as the construction progresses.


Long Term Visitor                                                                          06-20-18
For the last few months, we have had the privilege of hosting Madison Brunk, a 2015 Messiah Engineering grad. She and Andrew worked together in Collaboratory when she was a student and he was an off-campus advisor (aka alumni Messiah couldn't get rid of). After spending a semester abroad in Rwanda and a year serving as an MCC SALTer in Uganda, she has been praying about what God has for her in this part of the world. She happened to have a gap between jobs and, after a divine prompting, she inquired with Andrew about spending some time here at the hospital, volunteering her engineering skills and checking out a cool new place. Due to a high volume of guests at the hospital, she has stayed with us at our house. She will be our longest staying guest and deserves some award for putting up with Andrew's random songs he makes up and my obsession with musicals. 😊 
While Andrew has kept her quite busy, she did make it to Livingstone for a long weekend. Being the true adventurer she is, this trip included diving into the gorge attached to the giant swing and white-water rafting down the Zambezi River! We have enjoyed having her do life with us for these last two months and we wish her well as she starts her new job at the beginning of September. Of course, no trip would be complete without a visit to past homes, so she is going to travel through Malawi, Rwanda, and Uganda on the way home!

Holiday Getaway                                                                          06-30-18
As has become our theme this year, our last long weekend of holidays turned into a traveling adventure! Zambia celebrates holidays on July 2 and 3, so I decided that it was time to go to the beach… in Kenya! Life had been crazy before and after this weekend, so the purpose of this vacation became relaxation. We enjoyed a bit of luxury staying at a resort in Mombasa, which consisted of laying by the pool, walking on the beach, swimming in the ocean, sleeping, eating, and watching World Cup games. It was a lovely getaway and intentional time for just two of us. It turned out to be a mini second honeymoon celebrated at our 18-month anniversary - a bit unconventional, but lovely just the same. 

Book Club                                                                                      07-20-18
[Danielle’s List]
Persuasion – Jane Austen
This was the focus of my third grad class and my first chance to study Austen in-depth! Being Austen’s last book, it was fascinating to read it with the lens of her previous books and what she could have written if she would have lived longer. I also appreciated studying this story with a historical lens, but also viewing it through the ways our culture has changed with the roles of men and women and society’s view on it. These graduate classes have been such a wonderful opportunity to dive back into literature analysis and explore new ideas- I am so grateful for the chance to do so! 

Assimilate or Go Home- D.L. Mayfield
I found this title from listening to a podcast all about Adventures in Odyssey (The Prophetic Imagination Station). The author is the wife of the husband-wife team who created the podcast and for lots of reasons, I kinda want to be best friends with them. Anyway, this book focuses on the work and lessons learned from working with (mainly) Somali Refugees in the Pacific Northwest. I really appreciate the journey she went through, a similar one I have found myself going through, of trying to find your purpose in serving others. How do we fight against our perspective of “teaching others”? The idea, similar to the white savior complex, that we have to bring something to a group of people that we think they need. I find this an unhelpful mindset because of the power differential it implies. How can we instead adopt the mindset of learning? Just seeking to learn from others and in turn, always be equals in the process. It’s an idea I continue to wrestle with, especially while living overseas, and I appreciated Mayfield’s perspective in this process.

Harry Potter series- JK Rowling
As a treat for being on a short break between grad classes, I reread the Harry Potter series. Like a few of my favorite other books, I appreciate the process of rereading books at different stages of my life. For example, this time I was much more focused on the teachers and their relationship with the students, having now spent a few years in that sort of relationship. I also appreciated the process of maturation that the main characters go throughout the series, as I am reading these books at an age beyond ones they were- as opposed to reading these books and being the same age as the three heroes. Though I know many people who do not like returning to a book they have already read, my husband included, I would highly recommend it for the chance to learn new things about yourself and from the story.     

[Andrew’s List]
The Bourne Trilogy (Identity, Supremacy & Ultimatum) – Robert Ludlum
I have always enjoyed the Bourne movies and thought I would see what the books were like, so I read all three that Ludlum had written (others were written later by Eric Van Lustbader after Ludlum’s death).  I read Bourne Identity, and was amazed at how different the actual story line was from the movies.  The movies basically just took the character and put a completely different storyline in place.  The books weaved an intriguing story and I finished the first one quickly.  I continued on through the next two books, using the plane trips to Ethiopia and Kenya and the time on the beach in Kenya to get through most of them, finally wrapping them all up on a few evenings at home.  As usual, reading the books, as opposed to watching the movie, will almost always give much more context and character development and Ludlum weaved in a lot of details into his stories which were fascinating.

Andrew Work Update:
As is becoming the norm, work has been busy.  We are ramping up for more construction in Zambia as we push to complete the drawings for expanding and renovating two of the existing buildings.  The second phase of the construction in Ethiopia has started.   We completed one construction project in Niger and started another one.  Also, we have a few initiatives started in Malawi.  These next few months will see me traveling to Malawi, Ethiopia, Niger, and the USA for work.  Please keep CURE and all the technical services going on around the network in your prayers as we strive to create and support facilities of excellence that are sustainable, safe and welcoming to all who walk through our doors.

Danielle Work Update:
We continue to move forward with the training for our counselors in our clubfoot clinics! We have finally finished the creation of the sessions and are now moving into the creation of the powerpoints and manuals that go with them. Our hope is to have our first pilot training this November in Zambia!

Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement.  We are so thankful for all of you that take the time to read these posts.

- Andrew & Danielle

PS:  We had a Christmas in July youth meeting which was fun, though actually felt a bit more like actual Christmas because it has been so cold here in Zambia!  Danielle did a great job coordinating a lot of Christmas themed games and activities, we had hot cocoa, and got to sing some Christmas carols led by one of the youth.  Andrew shared a brief talk on the Christmas story looking at the past, present, and future of some of the main characters in the Gospel of Luke chapter 2, tying in some of the Andy Stanley series concepts.  The youth meeting for July went really well and we are thankful for all the parents that have helped out as well.  Please keep the youth group in your prayers as we start planning and preparing for the annual youth retreat that happens in October.

PPS:  Drew and I brewed another beer, this time a porter.  After being given a hard time from Niall for throwing away the ‘spent grain’ from our first brew, I decided to take his recommendation and make fresh bread from it.  Because it was a porter, the grains were very dark and it made a very brown barley loaf. But overall it was pretty good and seemed pretty healthy.  The brew has finished fermenting and was just bottled so we are looking forward to seeing how our second brew turned out in a few weeks once bottle conditioning is finished (we even experimented with a few of the beers by adding coffee at this bottling stage).

PPPS:  Putting what Drew taught me a month or so back into practice, I brought back some green Ethiopian coffee beans from my recent trip and roasted them myself on the stove while Danielle was out of the house for something.  I may have filled the house with a lot of smoke, but the coffee turned out great! I highly recommend roasting your own beans.

PPPPS: You may remember our previous notes about the Pastoral Call Committee that we have been on at our church. We are excited to announce that we have presented a final candidate to the church, and barring any issues, we hope to welcome them to our congregation soon! Thank you for your prayers with us in this process.

PPPPPS: Its a Christmas in July miracle - We have found a restaurant with actually good burgers here in Lusaka! Turn-N-Tender is the name of the South African Chain-Restaurant that finally served up a good burger. Till now, the only proper burgers we have had, came off our own grill.

PPPPPPS: A few extra photos of us actually riding on-top of the elephants....boy its high up there


Friday, May 18, 2018

Sharing the Travel Bug with Family and Friends

It's been a busy time here and a lot has happened since our last post!  We had the blessing of my parents visiting us, which of course gave us a reason to visit new and old places in and around Zambia.  We also had a long weekend (public holiday) that allowed us the time to travel to an 'exotic' location to meet up with some of our good friends living in Ethiopia.  Its hard to put these events in words and even harder to describe the amazing sights and sounds that we got to experience.  We are so thankful that we live on such an incredible continent and have the opportunity to travel, hopping from country to country almost as easily as hopping from state to state in the US. Thank you all for taking the time to read and keep up with our lives. We miss you all and know that you are welcome to visit! The continent is indeed very diverse and has so many incredible destinations.

Family Visit #1             04-01-18
We had the privilege a few weeks ago to have our first family visit! Andrew’s parents, Jim and Cindy Betteridge, came to spend three weeks here with us in Zambia. We kept them plenty busy with lots of time at the hospital, lots of trips around the country, and lots of new things to see and experience! It is such a blessing to have family visit, not only to see where you live, but also to meet your people and do life with you. We are so grateful for our family being willing to come to a new country and spend this time with us.

A few highlights of the trip included Easter Weekend, a weekend in South Luangwa National Park and a weekend in Livingstone. Since they flew in on Easter weekend, we had the Friday and Monday off as holidays, so one of those days, we visited Lilayi Lodge. The lodge is located just outside the city, which means we got to see zebras as we were driving in! They also have an elephant orphanage, so we enjoyed watching a feeding. We also enjoyed having Easter together, first at our church, LCC, then we had a fabulous lunch at our house with our friends, Drew, Amanda, Noah and Rachel. It was so lovely to celebrate a holiday with family!

Our second weekend, we flew to Mfwue, a town that is 1 hour flight or 8 hours drive- we chose the flight. We stayed at Flatdogs Lodge and enjoyed a morning game drive and a night game drive in South Luangwa National Park. This is definitely the closest that I have been to the animals- we would drive around the corner and there was an elephant! Or a giraffe! Or a zebra! We also got to see a pack of wild dogs, which are unique to Zambia. It was very cool to see another part
of the beautiful country and the amazing animals it has to offer!

Our last weekend, we drove the 7 hours to Livingstone, thankfully with no incident. We enjoyed seeing Victoria Falls on the Zambia side, which was a bit different than when we had come in December. April is when the falls are the fullest, so we got soaked!! Our ponchos could not quite withstand the pounding water, which is mostly just the mist coming off of the falls. A first for Andrew and I was visiting the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls. We had heard many times over how beautiful and expansive that side was, but there’s nothing quite like seeing it for yourself! We especially enjoyed an amazing rainbow that shone out from the mist. Finally, we had a great day trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana- a boat trip and a game drive through the park seeing lots of very cool animals.

Lusaka happenings- while we were in Lusaka, Jim and Cindy got to spend lots of time at the hospital, hanging with the kids and in the playroom. They also got to check out a few of our friends’ ministries, which happened to include two different schools to visit. Again, they were able to hang out with lots of kids- a bit of theme of their trip. We also enjoyed having them at our small group, even speaking at one of our Wednesday night meetings. It was such a wonderful time of doing life together and we loved having them here!!

Here is the trip from their perspective:
“Woah….look at those beautiful flowers!” At these excited words, our driver and safari guide stopped the jeep and turned off the engine as he asked me what I had seen.  With equal enthusiasm, he identified the hibiscus blossoms I had admired and told us a bit about where else we’d find them.  As we started up again, with the oh so subtle encouragement of Andrew, I realized that I’d need to contain my enthusiasm or we’d spend our four hour safari experience covering a distance of only a few feet.   

In a nutshell, that’s my African experience—my senses were continually on overdrive. 
Danielle and Andrew challenged me to encapsulate 3 weeks of experiences into a few sentences30,240 minutes shared with Andrew and Danielle seeing how they’re thriving and growing in their marriage

and in the work in Lusaka (and beyond) that the Lord has called them to do, and adventuring with them as they explore the continent they call home. 

We sat on the floor at the CURE hospital playing and praying with children who have had surgery or who were awaiting surgery—such sweet children, so eager for fun, so eager to be friends!  We held cuddly babies and encouraged moms at the Clubfoot Clinic while observing two gifted and loving physical therapists care for little ones and their families.  We listened to children read to us—some haltingly, others with graceful fluidity when we helped out at two schools in Lusaka.  We were excited about the abilities of some and so sad at the limits of others, but we prayed for Jesus to touch each life with purpose and with love. 

We bumped along on Jeep rides and boat rides (and car rides—Andrew’s driving skills never ceased to impress!) through the South Luangwa Valley and through Chobe, Botswana:  elephants, hippos, giraffes, zebras, impala, antelope, crocodiles…and….African wild dogs, not to mention so many
birds—fish eagles, kingfishers, bee-eaters and wood owls—and butterflies…too many to record—so many sights and sounds! We were drenched in the intensity and beauty (and mist!) of Victoria Falls from the Zambia side and the Zimbabwe side. Our days were capped off with splendid sunsets and brilliant stars—the Milky Way streaming across the sky.  And in the midst of all the wonder, the sweet voice of The ONE who created it all, spoke into our hearts a promise of many more adventures to come!!!

Zanzibar, Tanzania – Friends Holiday__________04-27-18
A few weeks ago, we had the amazing chance to meet our friends from Ethiopia, Niall and Sian, for a weekend away in Zanzibar! This is a place I have wanted to visit for many years and it truly lived up to all the hopes I had for it. The white sandy beaches, the clear blue water, the warm sun, and though it was rainy season, we only had a storm or two to deal with. We enjoyed exploring Stone Town a bit, then stayed the next couple days on the Eastern coast. One of my favorite things that we did was a bit of snorkeling. There were so many fish to see and the coral was so intricate. The best part, of course, was being able to spend some time with Niall and Sian- it’s lovely to have friends that you can just be with. We look forward to many more McBetter adventures!

Enjoying Stone Town with Niall and Sian

The "backyard" at our AirBnB house.

The beach where we went snorkeling
On our way to see some amazing fish and coral while snorkeling!
Roasting and Brewing__________05-06-18

A friend recently said, “After roasting green coffee beans for over seven years and reading lots of opinions on the matter, I am of the belief that green [coffee] beans are just beans – Not really good or bad. As green beans go, there isn’t a ‘great coffee bean’ or a ‘lousy coffee bean’ [when coming from the standard coffee growing countries].  The ‘quality’ of the green [coffee] beans typically does not make or break the ability to make great coffee.  It’s how you roast them that either adds quality or reduces quality. It’s how you grind these roasted beans that adds or takes away. It’s how you brew the coffee grounds that adds or takes away.  And these things added up to make great coffee or bad coffee."

As I stood in Drew’s kitchen, after roasting some of the Rwandan green beans that I had brought back from Danielle’s and my recent trip to Kigali, he shared the above opinions on green beans.  I could not help but think of the Andy Stanley series, Just Ask It (asking what is the wise choice).  This is the same series we have been going through at the monthly meetings of youth group. In the third session, Andy Stanley focuses on the concept that investing small amounts of time on something is cumulative (adds-up) but that random has no cumulative value.  For example, with the green coffee beans, if we use a tried and true process for roasting the beans, a burr-grinder and a chemex to brew the grounds, these investments will add up to a great cup of coffee.  If we burn the beans to char, chop the beans with a knife, and use an auto-drip coffee maker, we will end up with a bad cup of coffee. Whether we put in the time and effort or forgo this, we will get something with positive or negative value.  But if we just do random, we don’t get anything.  For example, if I roast the beans but never grind them because I would rather read my FB feed, pick my nails, or scratch the label off a bottle, I don’t actually end up with anything, because I just do a lot of random things that do not add up to anything.

This got me thinking about us as humans (let’s throw in a quote from the movie Hellboy), “What makes a man a man? A friend of mine once asked. It’s the choices he makes. Not how he starts things, but how he finishes them.”  Just like a green bean we don’t start as babies as either a good quality citizen or a bad citizen, it’s the choices made along the way that turn that baby into a good citizen or a bad citizen.  It’s the choices we make in meaningful things daily that add up to make us a good citizen or a bad citizen. Or maybe we just make invest in so many random things that don’t add up to anything, just making us a fool.  What are the choices we are making today that are leading us to who we will finish life as?  Who are we saying ‘yes’ too? What are we saying ‘no’ too? How are we allowing ourselves to be distracted?  As Andy Stanley shares, “What is the wise thing for me to do, in light of my past experiences, present circumstances, and future hopes and dreams?”

I am currently brewing some beer.  Somewhat like green beans, it’s the process and what you put into it that will make or break the results.  The biggest fear that I have read (from my propensity to research everything I am interested in) is contaminates (bad bacteria) getting into the process.  The only ‘good bacteria’ is the special brewer’s yeast used in the process.  But wild, bad bacteria/yeast found floating around the world can be the detriment to the whole process. 

This further reminds me of life, that what we put in and how we do things matters.  There are things we can do to avoid introducing wild yeast into our life.  But still sometimes things happen and that bad stuff gets in.  And once it gets in there is no separating it out.  Once the beans are burned to char there is no going back.  Something outside the laws of this world has to step in to clean out the wild bacteria or restore the skunked beer. Everything follows the second law of thermodynamics - everything breaks down into disorder.  But what if there was something that could step in, that is outside all the laws of this universe?  What hope would that bring to spoiled batch of beer or the rancid coffee? But really. What hope would that bring to each of us that have made a lot of consecutive bad decisions or have had a lot of bad yeast thrown into our life ?  Check out the ‘book’ of “John” a section of the Bible.

The Travel Bug__________05-15-18

We have already talked about good and bad yeasts, the little critters that make or break bread, beer, and kombucha. But what about the TRAVEL BUG?!  Have you been BITTEN?!

Danielle- For myself, this started very early. My first trip overseas was when I was ten- in preparation for our family moving overseas, we visited Venezuela for two weeks to help out with a missionary retreat. From then on, I have loved traveling and seeing new places. This, of course, took on an entirely new perspective once we lived in Ethiopia for three years. Encountering so many cultures on a daily basis allowed me to experience the amazing things that this world has to offer. In high school, my travels stayed a bit closer to home, many trips to Ohio, a couple trips to Canada, and seeing lots of PA. Then in college, I loved exploring a bit more of the world. My semester abroad in England allowed the chance to visit many different European countries, which was amazing. I also had the opportunity to go to Guatemala four times over those years, to see some friends and with two missions trips. Moving back to Ethiopia after college opened up the expat life to me in a new way, because it was during my first few years of adulthood and striking out on my own. I enjoyed a few more trips to Europe, I got to visit some friends in Asia, and see a bit more of Africa. Now that we are here in Zambia and it's a bit more accessible to visit more African countries, and also having an amazing husband who has been bitten too, I have loved being able to see more of this beautiful world. Right now, I am working trying to reach the same number of countries as my age- only two more to go! 

Andrew- My wife was bitten early. I was bitten seemingly late in comparison. Only traveling outside of North America my last year of University.  But this year is proving to be a travel bug binge!  It is only May and I have already traveled from Zambia to seven countries (including twice to Niger), five of which are new countries for me.  And I am looking for every long holiday weekend as an opportunity to visit a new place – Nambia?! Mozambique?!  Angola?! Can we hit all the Southern Africa countries including eSwatini (previously Swaziland)?!  During a trip back to the US, can we include a stopover in Iceland?!  Its bad man, I’ve got it really bad!  My country list is just over half-way to my age and that needs to change! 

Book Club__________2018-05-08
Somehow for months now, we have not included the BOOK CLUB!  It is not because of lack of read books, but probably because of my lack of enthusiasm for writing these blog posts. Thankfully, Danielle has taken the charge to keep us on a one to two month schedule. Because after a long day at work and on the busy weekends, I have not wanted to write blog posts.  Sorry everyone, but thanks to Danielle for pushing me and writing most of the last few blog posts!  But I am happy that we can include this section back in our blog post this go around.

[Danielle’s list]

Invisible Man- Ralph Ellison
This was the book for my latest grad school class, so I had the chance to study it in depth, which this novel definitely needs. The life of the main character, while a universal experience for many in his generation, was not a story I was familiar with- but I found so many elements of it to still be so relevant 60 years later. I believe the reason this novel has had so much acclaim over the years is the layer upon layer that Ellison built into it. I enjoyed the chance to not only read this famous title, but really dig into it in the class.

Searching for Sunday- Rachel Held Evans
This book was recommended to me by my friend Katie and I am so glad she did! I have found myself with so many of the same questions that Evans has and so I enjoyed her foray into discovering the answers. She addresses a struggle that many have had with the church- trying to find Jesus and his teachings in the midst of the culture that gets wrapped into the American church experience. In my years overseas, I have learned that God is so much bigger than we usually allow him to be and he is accepting of much more than we as humans like to be. But I am grateful that he is God and I am not. I would highly recommend this book!

A Year of Biblical Womanhood- Rachel Held Evans
This is a bit lighter look at a similar topic as the last book- where do we draw the line of culture influencing our faith? Evans shares of her experience of a year that she spent literally following the scriptures that applied to women, specifically in the areas of gentleness, obedience, valor, beauty, modesty, justice, grace. I appreciated her approach to these topics as she dived into the bible, while also interviewing women who applied these things in their daily lives and the meaning that they got out of it. I highly recommend it!

[Andrew's list]
Braving the Wilderness – Brene Brown
From a recent e-mail discussion with a colleague, I put this book on Christmas list and my parents came through.  How do we stand apart for what is right and true, knowing that this will abandon us to the wilderness – not accepted or understood by our peers, culture, or community? How do we intentionally challenge ourselves to be surrounded by those with different opinions and thoughts while still holding civil conversations?
Some of my favorite quotes are:
  • "People are hard to hate close up. Move in. Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil. Hold hands. With strangers. Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart."
  • "When we avoid certain conversations, and never fully learn how the other person feels about all of the issues, we sometimes end up making assumptions that not only perpetuate but deepen misunderstandings, and that can generate resentment. These results are sometimes worse for the relationship than just having the so-called “argument” would be. The key is to learn how to navigate conflicts or differences of opinion in a way that deepens mutual understanding, even if two people still disagree.
  • "Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process….[Civility] is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same. Civility is the hard work of staying present even with those with whom we have deep-rooted and fierce disagreements. It is political in the sense that it is a necessary prerequisite for civic action. But it is political, too, in the sense that it is about negotiating interpersonal power such that everyone’s voice is heard, and nobody’s is ignored."
  • "Today we are edging closer and closer to a world where political and ideological discourse has become an exercise in dehumanization. And social media are the primary platforms for our dehumanizing behavior."

Bob Lee Swagger Series – Point of Impact, Book 1 – Stephen Hunter
Since high school one of my favorite movies was Most Wanted.  Then a number of years later Shooter (Mark Wahlberg) came out.  I couldn’t shake the similarities of the two movies, so I looked them up on Wikipedia (of course) and discovered that Shooter was based on the Stephen Hunter books, but that somehow Most Wanted wasn’t (even though it’s almost identical to the plot). And lastly a couple of years ago Shooter the TV show was released.  I finally decided that I should read the books after watching this story play out on a screen for so long. So I read it on my kindle screen.  The book, as is typical of books vs movies or TV, gave a lot more background and insight into the characters which I found interesting.  There is a bit of crude and bigoted language that I could leave (even though it was in an attempt to portray the characters). But overall it’s an okay book that I found interesting because I have watched the movies and TV show.

Pendragon Cycle (All 5 books) – Stephen R. Lawhead
I have been a longtime fan of Lawhead since reading his Song Of Albion trilogy in High-school and so it is surprising that it has taken me so long to read his Pendragon series.  But this year I was thankful for having some fiction books to read and Lawhead doesn’t disappoint.  It probably helps that I am biased towards most things King Arthur, but Lawhead, as always, weaves in legends and historical stories.  He brings forth an Arthur that is more real than the Hollywoodized king.

Avalon: The Return of King Arthur – Stephen R. Lawhead
I followed up the Pendragon Cycle with Avalon which carries forth the story in modern times.  The way he connects new and old is fascinating.  The problem with book reviews from fans, is that fans are not very biased, so I will leave it at that.

Andrew Work Update:
Work has been busy here in Zambia. We are replacing windows in the Ward and kitchen, had the grand opening for the Ortho workshop, hosted some facilities volunteers from the US (helped with training for maintaining our sewer lines, concrete best practices, etc.), and a lot of other initiatives.  I also fit in a trip to Niger to support the many projects going on there.  It may seem like much of this month was holiday travel, but really the weekdays were long work days and we somehow found a way to fit in some much needed rest on the weekends and holidays.

Danielle’s Work Update:
The project that I am managing is coming along pretty well. We are currently working on a training for our counselors in our clubfoot clinics- we have received the first draft of (mostly) all of our sessions! I also have been organizing the different teams that are giving input to the project. Just yesterday this meant leading a conference call with individuals from Zambia, Rwanda, Niger, Sudan, Honduras, Paraguay, UK, and the US!

Thank you all for taking the time to read our stories! We always love hearing from you so please email, message or call us!

- Andrew & Danielle

PS:  I think I have also been bitten by the Do It Yourself (DIY) bug this year.  First it was making ice cream because there just isn't good ice cream available here in Lusaka and I enjoy a good bowl of ice cream (so far cookies and cream has been my best). I would not recommend making your own ice cream if you are living in the States where you can get a half-gallon of good ice cream for less than $5, because the ingredients alone for ice cream will probably cost you more than that - here in Zambia I think the total cost (minus my time and labor) is just under $6 (the cream is what's expensive!). 
As I mentioned above, my friend Drew showed me a good process for roasting coffee beans and we have been enjoying this freshly roasted coffee the last week or so.  My parents were able to bring over some basic beer making equipment and ingredients. As we speak Drew and I have already bottled it (3 weeks before we had brewed the wort and were just waiting for it to ferment) and are just waiting for it to carbonate (total process from start to finish will be roughly 4-5 weeks). Just recently, my wonderful wife got me a bottle cutter, that will allow me to create drinking glasses and other decorations from used wine and beer bottles!  Why buy something when you can make it yourself - or maybe its, "When something isn't available to buy, make it yourself"! haha


PPS: As we have previously mentioned, we are on the Pastor Call Committee at church. We have made some good progress, but there is still much more to be done. Please pray for us and the pastor that God will bring to LCC.

PPPS:  Some more photos from the trips:
Victoria Falls - Zambia

Victoria Falls - Zimbabwe

Zambezi River - Zambia

Chobe River - Border of Botswana & Namibia
Luangwa River - South Luangwa - Zambia

South Luangwa - Zambia
South Luangwa - Zambia
South Luangwa - Zambia

African Wild Dog - South Luangwa - Zambia

African Wild Dogs - South Luangwa - Zambia (Wild Dogs are usually a rare sighting!)
South Luangwa - Zambia
South Luangwa - Zambia
Hyena - South Luangwa - Zambia

Stone Town - Zanzibar - Tanzania

Kiwengwa - Zanzibar - Tanzania

Kiwengwa - Zanzibar - Tanzania

Kiwengwa - Zanzibar - Tanzania

FUN IN THE SUN - Kiwengwa - Zanzibar - Tanzania