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Merry Christmas from Lundazi

by Charles & Melissa Johnson

As 2016 draws to a close, and Christmas nears, we want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas.  This year has seen many wonderful changes in our lives, as we’ve followed God’s call to Zambia.  We have been welcomed by new friends, and shown the love of Christ by those we’ve met and we’ve done our best to do the same.  We are truly at home in Zambia! 

With the onset of rainy season, these beautiful wild lilies are starting to appear around Chasefu.  We’ve asked what they are called in Tumbuka, but haven’t been told so far.  We were told by our friend, Timothy Chirwa, that some people call them Christmas flowers, because the women put them in their hair at Christmas time.

After a few false alarms, rainy season is finally here (as we write this, it is pouring outside).  The people we work and live with here have made their farming activities a priority; everywhere we go, men, women and children are hard at work, preparing their fields to plant maize, the staple crop in Zambia.  Likewise, work at Chasefu Model Farm, and the agricultural income generating activities (IGA) at Chasefu, is in full swing.  In late October, red onions were planted in seeding beds, as part of the IGA’s participation in the Cross Border Network Africa (CBNA) red onion program.  The onion seedlings will be transplanted in the next week, in beds which have already been prepared.  Harvest of these onions, which are purchased by CBNA for distribution in Zambia and beyond, will take place in February.

We are also plowing the fields, and planting maize and soy beans at Chasefu, and like farmers everywhere, hoping for good rains and a plentiful harvest in several months.

Frank Banda guides a team of oxen, plowing the field at Chasefu Model Farm in preparation for planting maize.

Frank Banda guides a team of oxen, plowing the field at Chasefu Model Farm in preparation for planting maize.

These two men plant maize at Chasefu Model Farm.  They make an indentation in the soil with their heel, drop two maize seeds in the hole, cover the seed with soil using their other foot, take a step and repeat the process.

These two men plant maize at Chasefu Model Farm.  They make an indentation in the soil with their heel, drop two maize seeds in the hole, cover the seed with soil using their other foot, take a step and repeat the process.

Melissa has been very busy with her new position as CCAP Health Education Program Facilitator.  As you may recall, when we came she was discerning and praying to see how God would use herin Zambia and this work seems like exactly what God had in store for her.  The department has been somewhat inactive for several years, so there is a lot of work to do to get things moving again.  She has been attending stakeholder meetings here in Lundazi to familiarize herself with the healthcare system and the organizations working in the Lundazi District.  We have toured both of the health centers operated by the Synod (in Egichikeni and Ndaiwala)  to better understand the services provided, their challenges and accomplishments.  The department is hoping to find partners to assist with the Synod’s goals of increasing the capacity of the health centers, building new centers and providing educational training for both health care workers and the community. 

Phalaza is the first community where the Synod hopes to build a new health center.  The approximately 4,000 residents who live in and around Phalaza currently must travel at least 14 km by foot or bike to receive health care. The Synod and the department are hopeful that they will be able to provide the residents of the Phalaza area with better access to primary health care services, especially ante-natal and post-natal care, and diagnosis and treatment for malaria and HIV/AIDS.  We ask that you keep the CCAP Health Department in your prayers as it works to improve the lives of the people in Zambia.

Interpretive Assignment Summer and Fall, 2017

We are excited to share that we will be returning to the U.S. next summer for Interpretive Assignment.  We will leave Zambia on June 13, 2017 and will be in the U.S. until November 6, 2017.  Although we have already contacted a small handful of churches regarding visits, our real efforts to connect will begin just after the beginning of the new year.  We hope to visit as many of our supporting churches as possible and to also visit churches which might be in the discernment phase of supporting a mission co-worker, so we can share about our partner, the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian Synod of Zambia, and our work here.  

A group of women in the kitchen of the mother care shelter at Ndaiwala Health Center.  Because of the long distances they must travel, women come to the clinic a week or two before their delivery date so they can receive a safe delivery of their new baby.

A group of women in the kitchen of the mother care shelter at Ndaiwala Health Center.  Because of the long distances they must travel, women come to the clinic a week or two before their delivery date so they can receive a safe delivery of their new baby.

If you would like to schedule a visit while we are home, please contact Melissa at Melissa.Johnson@pcusa.org, or Charles at Charles.Johnson@pcusa.org, to discuss and schedule.  Because there are a limited number of Sundays during our time in the U.S., we hope to also find ways to meet and share at times outside of worship activities.  Please keep in mind that we will need assistance with travel expenses as we make our trek around the country, but we’re a pretty cheap date, as evidenced by a typical road warrior meal from our pre-sending IA travels.

As the end of the year approaches we a so very grateful for all of your love and prayers.  We can feel them everyday!  But without your financial support we couldn't be here.  So to everyone who has supported us financially - Thank you!  All of your financial gifts are needed and very appreciated regardless of their size or frequency.  We have worked hard to try to reach our support goal of $138,000 but we still have a ways to go.  If you are looking for an end of the year charitable giving opportunity, we would be so very grateful if you would give to support our ministry.  If you would like to make a gift, click:  

https://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/E200534/