Monday, September 22, 2014


Standard Chartered

The past couple years I've been collecting visits to banks in Choma. Surprisingly, we have at least 8 (EIGHT!) banks in our small town. It seems like new banks are popping up every few months. 

As would be expected, banking isn't the same here as in the States.

One thing that’s different is that I have to physically go to specific banks to make certain money transfers/payments (instead of all money being sent electronically). For example, if a scholarship student’s school banks with a different bank than I do, I have to draw cash from my bank and deposit it into the student’s school’s bank. (confused? I’m not surprised…)

the lion bank :)

So, a few months into my stay I decided make a sort of game of collecting as many banks as possible on my invisible list of “Have-banked-with-banks-in-Choma.”

So far, I have collected:
  • Standard Chartered
  • Finance Bank
  • InvesTrust
  • ZANACO (Zambia National something-or-another)
  • Barclays

I've also used the ATM at StanBic, but that doesn't really count, because I wasn't required to go inside the building, wait through a queue, and work with a teller.

Maybe I should pray for more scholarship students at different schools so I can collect the rest of the banks in Choma!  :)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

General Conference-- Come and See

singing at national church meetings is a huge deal for BICCZ women's choirs

Every year in August the BIC church of Zambia convenes its annual general conference. Last month, Sara and I had the privilege of attending several messages throughout the conference. This year’s theme was “Celebrating Justice, Peace, and the Grace of God.” Our closing address was titled, “Come and See What God Has Done.” It is indeed a joy to see God’s hand at work here in Zambia.

A simple, but favorite chorus I’ve learned from my Zambian friends goes like this:

Come and see
(Oh, come and see)
Come and see
(come and see)

Come and see what the Lord has done
Come and see what the Lord has done


BICCZ National Men's Choir

wearing church uniform/s is also very important to BICCZ women

Saturday, September 20, 2014

blue day

When we were kids, Mom (and sometimes Dad too) would take us blueberry picking in August. Usually, we were each responsible to pick at least one pail of berries to take home. Back in those days, most of the berries went in the freezer for Dad’s blueberry pancakes every Saturday morning, and Mom’s blueberry pies for special occasions.

While I’ve always enjoyed blueberries, they’ve never been my favorite fruit. However, since our farm’s expansion in 2006 to managing a five acre blueberry patch, I grew accustomed to an abundance of fresh berries from early July through the end of September.

As many berries as I wanted.
Whenever I wanted.


These days, my family’s blueberry consumption is mainly fresh berries—handfuls and handfuls and pails and pails of them, because we all love them even more than frozen berries (although a classic week night dessert throughout the winter is a bowl of frozen blueberries).

Blueberries are a wonderful thing… a thing I hope will be discovered someday in this wonderful country.

Pretty much, life in Zambia has been sans blueberries [Betsy, did you bring a wee jar of jelly last fall??]

But, my Arizona Aunt recently sent a package full of all sorts of amazing things… including a Ziploc of dried BLUEBERRIES!

So, the other day I had blue day.

For breakfast, I put dried blueberries in my oatmeal. Plus, I had a little bowl of homemade yoghurt with a little scoop of blueberry jam! (Sara bought a jar in S. Africa… it’s a product of France!)

But wait- there’s more:
Over the past couple of weeks, I put a considerable amount of careful thought into how I would like to “spend” my dried blueberries. I settled on combining my favorite blueberry muffin recipe with my favorite yoghurt scone recipe and creating blueberry scones for tea!

What better day to observe blue day than a Saturday, when I can laze around the house and don’t need to dress professionally for work or town… so… I sported my Michigan blue t-shirt all day as well. I shared the blueberry scones with our neighbors (I love sharing goodies).

Oh- and the best part of the story: I still have more dried blueberries to enjoy another time!

While observing blue day, I thought of my family working long hours at the Berry Barn and selling as many pounds of berries as could possibly be picked for Saturday at the busiest farmers market of the season (Midland Farmers Market has around 8,000 customers on an average Saturday-- all between 7am and noon!).

It was a good blue day.

What about you? Have you observed any blue days recently?

PS- blueberries are a super food packed with antioxidants. They’re also low in calories, and have a low glycemic level compared with other fruits.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tour Your Town

Inspired by Midland’s annual Be A Tourist In Your Town event.

Sometimes it’s the places I always go to and the stuff I always do that’s least documented as part of my Zambia story… that’s because those mundane things comprise the most boring, un-adventurous parts of my life :).

On a recent Saturday, Sara and I planned to tootle around Choma on bicycles taking photos of a few of our favorite sights, and stopping off to meet up with friends along the way. 

In all actuality, it had been a stressful week and neither of us had the energy to fight with two bicycles to ensure they were in proper working order for a ride… so we hopped in Amos and he chauffeured us here and there.

While in town, we stopped at a traditional local restaurant (one we’d never patronized before) for chicken and relish (cooked greens) and a big pile of nshima (staple maize patties). So much Yum.

we are Wonderbake fans...
main drag. such a normal scene.

bus station/stop

main drag (down the way from Spar, our grocery store)

make way for everyone...
cars, people, wheelbarrows, bicycles...

Choma Garage
getting to the fuel pumps is often a trick

"new" regional immigration office

Thursday, September 18, 2014


This is my temporary home
It’s not where I belong

Windows and rooms
That I’m passing through

This is just a stop
On the way to where I’m going

I’m not afraid
Because I know

This is [just] my temporary home

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Munali Coffee

Munali coffee beans

For fun, for quality time, and for family outings Dad and Mom hauled my eight sibs and I all over Michigan visiting museums, touring factories, and meeting people who make history come alive.

As an adult, I now travel the world with a love of learning “how stuff works.” I want to tour Spar’s bakery and ask how many tons of flour they use in a day and how many loaves of bread they could bake in 3 hours. When I heard about the local woman who makes peanut butter, I wanted to go see the process. And when I drove past the Munali Coffee Farm on the way to Lusaka, I dreamed of stopping in for a tour, because I’ve never seen coffee plants and don’t know how coffee is grown and processed.

So, a few weeks back Sara and I stopped at the Munali gate along the road to Lusaka. And I asked if we could take a tour. The guard said I’d need to call ahead to arrange it, and he didn’t have a contact number me to use.

Next time I was in Wonderbake, I asked my friend Geoffrey for a contact number, and jotted one down from the back of a coffee bag.

I called the number (the head office in Lusaka) and was given another number for someone at the farm.

Mr. Mugala said we could arrange a tour in exchange for a mandatory donation to the community school.

So, I did.

I wish we would have had all day to explore the Munali Farm, and I wish my parents and sibs could have been there too.

We drove Amos up and down and around grain fields, coffee plants, and… rows and rows of gorgeous flowers.

the bushes in rows reminded me of blueberries

lovely view

massive hoppers for the raw berries

learning how the "popper" works

sort of like a cotton gin

another popper

our guide, Artificial (yes, that is his name)

fermenting tanks

washing lanes

drying screens

more drying

feeling the partially dried beans

Sara asked this woman for permission to take a photo--
her job is to turn coffee beans every hour or two

the raw beans reminded me of cranberries in size, shape, and color

the harvesting overseer in the striped shirt

visiting the Munali plant nursery

coffee plants at the nursery
It takes months for a coffee seed to germinate

A few fun facts from our field trip:
  • Munali partners with Inreligentcia and exports coffee beans to the US
  • Currently, there are over 60 hectares of coffee plants on the Munali farm
  • Coffee beans, when ripe, look very similar to cranberries
  • The farm employs around 800 workers (that includes all workers—for the coffee, wheat, soy beans, and nursery)

GORGEOUS flowers-- grown for export to Europe

massive warehouse for sorting coffee beans and prepping them for shipment

green beans (before being roasted)

the sorting machine

bean samples

hurrah for Zambian coffee!

the roasting machines for Munali coffee that is marketed in Zambia

hand sorting beans

what a fun adventure!