Ben and Amy and the kids attend Faith Baptist Church Riverside, on a beautiful property that also includes a youth center and a Christian school.
We were picked up for church by a friend of theirs, since Ben and Amy were leaving service early to get a ride to the airport. Luggage was loaded and we all piled in. I was excited to experience worship in Kitwe. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it was very similar to what I experienced in Baptist churches growing up.
The sanctuary is a large airy room with simple pews made from wooden planks. The pulpit was centered on the platform at the front and there was room on stage right for the worship band.
Most of the songs and hymns were familiar, but there were a couple I hadn’t heard before, especially the songs that were sung in Bemba. At one point the pastor decided the congregation could be singing with more enthusiasm, so he interrupted and offered encouragement for them to lift their voices in praise, then gave the service back to the worship leader to resume singing. I looked at Amy with a laugh in my eyes. “That is not unusual,” she explained with a smile. Then there were the typical announcements, and a young couple was commissioned into ministry.
Before the preaching, when the kids were dismissed to go practice their Christmas Program, Ada didn’t want to go. She was having feelings about mom & dad going away, and didn’t want to be separated from them sooner than necessary. I volunteered to go with her because I wanted to see them practice anyway, since I wouldn’t be there for the performance. Ada agreed and led me out of the sanctuary to the youth center next door.
The adults were welcoming and kind. Many of them expected to meet me that day because Amy had been telling them about me. I enjoyed chatting with them, and I very much enjoyed watching the kids rehearse. Baa-ing sheep and flapping angel wings need no translation – it’s adorable in any language!
Ben and Amy came in briefly to say goodbye to the kids, and then they were off. After the services were finished there was a fellowship time outside. The younger kids played on the playground while the adults visited.
Ben and Amy’s friends, Kevin and Sarah Sherman, very kindly invited the kids and I to lunch at their house. Kevin prepared a delicious beef stir fry and served it over rice. We were joined by another young woman, Tolai, a favorite “auntie” of the kids. It was so fun to get to know them! They made sure I had their phone numbers so I could reach out if I needed anything, and Kevin took us home.
I was a little nervous for the first night alone with the kids until I remembered I wasn’t alone. The older boys were a huge help while I learned the ropes. We had leftovers to eat for dinner, and the bigs helped the littles with their bedtime routine. So far so good! The older boys completed their evening chores which involved feeding the dog and the guinea pigs, and making sure outside gates and door grates were closed and locked for the night. They also helped me prep lunch boxes for the next morning, and laid out the school uniforms for the littles. Bed time came quickly as I was definitely feeling the jet lag.
The next morning the littles were up and dressing by the time my alarm went off. The morning routine went well, thanks to the prep done the night before by the boys, and the littles got picked up for school. The boys completed their homeschool work and enjoyed some Minecraft time. I took my coffee and laptop outside and worked under the avocado tree.
I had plenty of time to write, update my journal, and keep current on emails, thanks to Sheila, the housekeeper that comes in every day to clean, do laundry, and help with childcare. She was so kind and helpful. She went about her routine while I spent time with the kids or worked on my laptop. My laundry was magically done for me every day – shirts that have never seen an iron before were pressed by Sheila. She knows all kinds of mysterious things about stain removal and got the pot clean after an unfortunate popcorn experience last night. She bathed the littles before she went home to help make bedtime routine a little easier for me.
Ben and Amy also have a groundskeeper that comes in every day, named Ezra. The grounds are extensive because of the size of the property, and Ezra keeps it all in pristine condition. He also oversees any workers that may come in for the day, looks after Tank, and answers honking horns at the gate when the kids are picked up and dropped off from school.
Auntie Sheila and Uncle Ezra (titles of respect) are members of the family and were so very kind and welcoming to me, patiently answering my questions and keeping the property safe and the household running well.
The kids and I were finding our rhythm. My jet lag was slowly resolving. The power hadn’t gone out since I first arrived. I had a list of phone numbers to call if I needed anything, and they really mean that there. Amy’s friends were texting me just to check in and make sure I was ok. I am definitely not used to that, but I was grateful for it, because I did need to ask for help a couple times. But that’s a story for another day…