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Off on our Travels: First stop, Zimbabwe

First of all, our apologies for not posting for so long. I've been composing posts in my head, and some on the computer, so we'll try to catch up with June, July & Aug when we can. But for now... onward.

We are off on our Amazing trip around the world. First stop: Zimbabwe. We took the bus from Lusaka to Harare Thursday and arrived at 2am! It was quite an experience--the bus was crammed--they even sold tickets to the aisles. You can see our djembe drum on top with the luggage (a pink/yellow circle). We were in high spirits, though, and enjoyed meeting the many Zimbabwean traders who buy clothes and stuff in Zambia and transport them for sale in Zim. Derek Forbes, PCUSA Mission Co-worker in Harare, graciously picked us up at the late hour and hosted us that night.

The next day we met up with CCAP Synod of Harare Executive members, Rev. Libias Boloma (General Secretary) & his wife Grace, and Rev. Pattison Chirongo, Moderator. We traveled with them to Chegutu CCAP--about 1.5 hrs away. We taught Friday and Saturday--for their Evangelism Seminar. Ryan preached for them on Sunday, and we handed out certificates to some VERY enthusiastic participants.

We have spent today (Mon) resting and hanging out with Derek around Harare. We will depart this evening on an overnight Greyhound bus, which will arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa, around noon tomorrow (Tues).

our bus. we got the last 2 seats! all the luxury buses were sold out!

the bus was very full!

Molly teaching in Chegutu CCAP, Zimbabwe

Molly leads some stretching between lessons

Ryan & Molly hand out certificates on Sunday with Rev. Chirongo (l) and Rev. Boloma (r)

Receiving chitenge as gifts from the participants

the 50+ participants--the largest group we've taught this year!

Ryan with Derek Forbes

City Presbyterian Church in Harare--the UPCSA Presbytery offices are next door (the brick bldg on left) where Derek has an office. This is the only truly inter-racial UPCSA congregation in Zimbabwe.

Posted September 12, 2011
June in Eastern Province: Part Three, Katete & Luangwa Boma

Our third and final week of this training trip in June, we traveled back to Luangwa, which is actually part of Lusaka Province.

On the way, we visited Rev. Banda's home village of Katete (between Chipata and Lusaka) and met his mother and sister, and several nieces and nephews. Their family raises pigs and chickens and guinea fowl. His sister made us guinea fowl for lunch, which was a first for us. Tastes like chicken!

The village of Katete

Visiting with Rev. Banda's family in front of his mother's home

Esther Phiri Banda, Rev. Banda's mother

Rev. Ackson Banda, his mother Esther, & his sister Dinah Phiri

Rev. Ackson Banda, his mother Esther, & his sister Dinah Phiri

Several of Esther's grandchildren

Rev. Banda had driven us about 8 hours to the site right at the Luangwa Bridge, where he expected the training to be held the next day. Unfortunately, when he phoned his contact to say we'd arrived, we found out the village was still 97 kilometers away on a dirt road! We finally reached Luangwa Boma just after dark Monday night to start a Tutor’s Training the next morning. The village or “boma” of Luangwa is at the confluence of the Zambezi and Luangwa rivers, which makes up the borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe. This is a great fishing area, and we ate lots of very fresh fish--including Tiger fish, which is quite tasty, but has SO many tiny, forked bones.

The UCZ Church which hosted us was meeting in a shelter made of reed mats, tin roof and a dirt floor (that they had painted red!). The churches in this area had never had a Tutor’s training, and were very enthusiastic. Unfortunately, we caught two unapologetic cheaters during the test, who were thus disqualified. We were all glad to get back to Kitwe, after a long 3 weeks of travel and trainings. (I don't have many photos here because I ran out of camera battery).

Ryan sitting on the painted dirt floors at Luangwa UCZ with the fattest baby we've ever seen

Baobab tree above the Luangwa River.  Those mountains are Mozambique.

fish for sale outside our guesthouse

Posted June 24, 2011
June in Eastern Province: Part Two, Mfuwe & South Luangwa National Park
A typical dwelling in Eastern Province, under a Baobab tree.
Cotton fields--another big export of Zambia
 Kamoto RCZ, Rev. Banda's first assigned congregation, near Mfuwe

After a week in Chipata, we then traveled the long dirt road to the village of Mfuwe, which is the gateway to South Luangwa National Park. We conducted a Tutor’s Training in Mfuwe, jointly hosted by the Reformed Church in Zambia (RCZ) & United Church of Zambia (UCZ) Churches. We had a small but dedicated group of trainees.

The participants from Mfuwe Reformed Church in Zambia

Inside Mfuwe RCZ

Molly teaching in Mfuwe

Students study outside

A bicycle taxi, a typical site

Molly selling course material out the back of the TEEZ vehicle

Mfuwe was HOT!!! We couldn't believe it was June & "cold season"--it felt like October again! It was also a very "wild" place to stay. Villagers deal constantly with wild animals and we got a little taste of that during our week's stay. Our guesthouse was right on the Luangwa river: a family of baboons was our alarm clock as the young ones would jump on our roof promptly at 6am each morning. We weren't aloud to walk outside without being escorted by a guard due to nightly visitors of hippos and elephants coming through the guest house grounds, who like to munch on the well-watered, green lawn, as most other places were dry by now.

We had one especially exciting night. Our second night in Mfuwe, I was awoken around 1am by loud barking (we later learned this was baboons reacting to a leopard walking through the grounds--just behind our chalet!!) I got up and looked out the window, but didn't see anything. A few moments later, alerted by a sharp little bite, I noticed that a sea of black army ants had entered our room. They were all along the walls and inside our luggage, even climbing up the mosquito net. We were quickly moved to another room to sleep the rest of the night, while they sprayed and got rid of the ants in the room. It was actually pretty lucky that the baboons' barking woke us--I wouldn't want to have been awoken by all those ants biting me in the bed!

A Baboon outside our chalet

Our local hosts helped us set up a game drive through the park. The UCZ Deacon had a well-connected congregation: one late-evening visit to the Warden’s house and a few minutes chatting on stools out the backdoor of an experienced driver, and then Saturday morning we entered the park for free standing in the back of a white 4x4 truck with Rev. Banda, the UCZ Deacon, and the RCZ pastor and his wife. It was a unique and unforgettable way to see one of the best parks in Zambia, and arguably all of Africa. Some favorite quotes heard that day include: “Look! Look! a squirrel!”;“Hippo—that’s good meat”; and Ryan's favorite, "Ooh, elephants, those people give us hell when they break into our houses and steal our food!"

"Squirrel! squirrel!"

Elephants in a marsh

This one felt a little too close for comfort as I was standing in the back of the pickup!

impalas sparing

Chichele Presidential Lodge inside the park (rooms~$650/night)
photos of Current President Rupiah Banda, and past presidents as well

The view from Chichele

Our ride

impala, giraffe, heron & crocodile all in one place

Buffalo skull

Ryan and I also went on a couple more game experiences in the park over the weekend, since this was the only time we would be in the area. We went on a walk one morning, where we learned more about feces than we'd ever thought we'd know, but also got pretty close to some animals too, and learned alot about the ecosystem. We also went on a night drive where we got to see some nocturnal animals, like lions, civets, and bush-babies.

Sunrise over the Luangwa River

hyena on our game walk

walking around South Luangwa NP

Every game walk is accompanied by a certified guide and a ranger (with a gun)

up close to a zebra

Hippo skull

hippo tooth

heron in flight


a "tower" of giraffe

male giraffe checking out a female

Lioness at night. She made the most amazing, deep, loud, long call to her mate.

Lion at night. We saw these two get into a tiff when the female (who'd undoubtably hunted the kill) tried to get a bit of meat and the lion roared at her!

Posted June 23, 2011
June in Eastern Province: Part One, Chipata Before May even ended, we raced off on another set of training adventures. We were in Eastern Province from about 29 May to 19 June. We drove 14+ hours from Kitwe to Chipata (one hour from the Malawian border) all in one day. The TEEZ Director, Rev. Kangwa Mabuluki, drove us all, picking up a visitor along the way in Lusaka: Josephine, from the U.K.-based organization Feed the Minds. Rev. Banda joined us the following day, and we helped to conduct a Tamar Campaign workshop, which focuses on the issue of gender-based violence, training participants in the method of contextual Bible study to address local issues. The group of 23 participants contained primarily women, from the CCAP, RCZ, UCZ and Anglican Church, from the towns/villages of Chipata, Petauke, Katete, Lundazi, Musulo, Misolo & Mambwe.

Participants work to create their own contextual bible studies which speak to self-identified issues of gender-based violence in their contexts.

Tamar Campaign participants work in groups.

Tamar Campaign participants work in groups.

One of the groups working outside

Josephine, from Feed the Minds, one of the funders for TEEZ's work with Tamar Campaign, was there to visit

Lunch being served in the entryway to the church building

St. Paul's Anglican Church, where we met for the Tamar Campaign. It was very well organized by Father Dennis Milanzi, the Training Coordinator for Diocese of Eastern Zambia.

Several of the women gather beforehand in a meeting hut outside the church building

Molly leads the group in sharing their contextual bible studies

Participants in the Tamar Campaign Workshop

The long road to Chipata was very hilly--very different than any part of Zambia we'd visited previously.

We had a couple days to rest before our next program. Rev. Banda took us to visit the Kangere Chieftaness, a small village run by a chief, and a young pastor, George Mafuleka, who is working there and whom had been supervised in seminary field-ed by Rev. Banda. His wife, Joyce, is a nursing student but was home for a couple days, helping with some meetings of the Women's Guild. We had a great time visiting with them, seeing the church grounds, and playing with their tiny kitten.

George, Joyce & tiny kitten
George & Joyce Mafuleka outside their manse home

Huge corn fields just harvested, a small part for the pastor, the rest for the congregation's use
The pastor's share of corn--to be milled into mealie meal (corn meal)
 Chicken house on stilts (behind), also notice the pumpkin growing on the grass fence

inside the RCZ church at Kangere

On Saturday, Ryan and I ran an all-day youth drama workshop, trying out some of our ideas for the new curriculum we'd been asked to create for TEEZ. We had done so previously in March, with youth in Kitwe, (link) but the Director thought it would be good to try it also in a more rural part of the country. We had a HUGE turnout. We had planned for between 15-25 youth, and at one point during the day there were over 45. We had to adjust how we did things, which meant not everyone got to participate in each exercise, which isn't ideal, but worked okay. It was a really fun day, and helped us refine our techniques and lessons a good deal.

The workshop was organized by Chipata UCZ Pastor Teddy Sakupapa, who was also a good friend of previous Fellows, Carmen and Bob. We had a chance to visit with him earlier during the week on one of our days off. We really enjoyed talking theology with him. At his invitation, Ryan preached on the Ascension and I led prayers in Sunday worship (the day after our workshop).

Some of the youth acting as fishermen about to be called by Jesus

Participants from the youth drama workshop (over half went home before this was snapped!)

Facing the congregation on Sunday morning

Molly & Ryan with the beautiful hills outside Chipata UCZ

Ryan with Rev. Teddy Sakupapa

Posted June 22, 2011
A Blur of Trainings: May in Lusaka
Molly leading a training session

After one week at home at the end of April, we traveled with Rev. Banda, the TEEZ Training Officer, to Lusaka for 3 weeks of Tutors trainings. The first week we were at a very large UCZ church near Lusaka city center, St. Paul UCZ. We had 21 participants that first week from six different UCZ congregations in their consistory.

click here for more pictures and stories of training in Lusaka...

Posted May 25, 2011
Molly & Ryan Dowell Baum

Author: Molly & Ryan Dowell Baum
Created: July 26, 2010

"We are the scatterlings of Africa/On a journey to the stars/Far below, we leave forever/Dreams of what we were ..." -Johnny Clegg

Where are we?
The Dowell Baum Team is at home in Kitwe.
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