When I wrote in February I had very good intentions to keep you informed about my friends in Zambia - referring to my communication with them from here in the UK.
Well things have moved on and I will be leaving for Zambia tomorrow! When I last wrote, Zambia was in the middle of the rainy season. In fact the rains ended prematurely resulting in a very poor harvest this year - particularly in the Southern Province (where Monze is situated). I'm told that there will be lot of hunger this year.
My friend Diven has told me that business is not good at the moment. He is struggling to raise enough money for food - anything else is now problem for him. Still he tells me he has a plan! I wait with interest!!
Since Jennipher had obtained a passport I decided to try to arrange for her to visit this year. The plan was to wait to see whether she could obtain a visa and then make the arrangements for her to come in the summer. In the event a few weeks back Jennipher's application was rejected.
The applications for visas in Zambia need to be made online. Jennipher has no experience of computers or the internet and therefore sought help. The form is quite difficult to complete and it isn't obvious how you complete fields where the question is not really applicable – e.g. if you don't know birth dates or have no income. Jennipher's 'agent' did his best, but feeling obliged to put in a figure for monthly income, 20,000 kwacha was entered. This was intended to represent £2.50. Unfortunately the kwacha was recently revalued and 20,000 kwacha is now worth £2,500. Not surprisingly the officials were not convinced about the validity of her application.
At the moment a representative from Global Giving is in Zambia. He wants to visit Kaliyangile and PIZZ school - which both feature on the Global Giving website. I feel that it is an appropriate time for me to visit. The opportunity to show Kai (from Global Giving) the projects helped me make the decision to make a short visit, despite Jennipher's disappointment.
I had expected to find that there was no chance of obtaining visa after the refusal, but when I sent an e-mail to Pretoria they responded by saying that, though there were no grounds for appeal, Jennipher was free to re-apply with the corrected information and proper supporting documents. After a number of attempts to obtain help in Monze, I completed the application myself this morning! I will bring all the necessary documents with me tomorrow and give them to Jennipher when I arrive on Thursday. I have arranged an appointment for her at the British Embassy on Friday. Yesterday I thought we would probably run out of time – today I think we have a good chance to get a decision before I return. If it is positive Jennifer will return to the UK with me.
I have been told that there is absolutely no chance of getting a visa for an African who has no money – it would seem that a miracle is required! Fortunately I believe in miracles!! However, plenty of prayers are needed – so please have a quick word.
So a couple of weeks ago I asked for the Hands Around the World team to find me a flight. Three were found ranging in price from £650 via Dubai to nearly £1,600 a direct fight with BA! Dilys and myself were not sure that Jennipher flying alone via Dubai would be a good idea, the BA flight was far too expensive, so I plumped for a flight leaving on the morning of 9th July via Amsterdam. Somehow the flight booked was one via Nairobi leaving on the evening 10th July (tomorrow).
In previous blog posts I have referred to an experience I had in 2006. I spent 7 days at Loyola Hall, a Jesuit retreat house near Liverpool, on a silent retreat. The Jesuits follow the example of St. Ignatius who recognised that by becoming in touch with his feelings and moods, he could discern the way the Lord wished him to follow. Importantly he found that following the way of God left him at peace.
My experience both at Loyola and in my life since, is that often when I have my own plan, I become very busy and agitated. This was my state a week or two back. In 2006 I only gave the Lord 7 days, so he had no time to waste on my detours. If I tried to dictate the agenda he messed up my plans and almost physically placed me on the right path. I have learnt through these experiences to become excited when things appear to go wrong. When I learnt of the changes to my flights I felt at peace.
I have always felt that Jennipher is probably meant to visit the UK. At this stage it is still very unlikely, but I wouldn't bet against it!
I look forward to my brief visit – I have a return flight booked for 4th August. I have lot to do during the visit, but I need to recognise that my own ability to achieve success is limited. I will try to enjoy the experience and embrace the wonder of what awaits me. I am sure that I m in for a wonderful treat – I just need to relax and enjoy it. I am so fortunate to have these chances – I have a responsibility to ensure they are not wasted.
I think I arranged to stay somewhere at Homecraft and will be met at the airport by Moses. Fortunately Monze is my second home and I know that if no plans work out, I can easily resolve the situation. This should allow me to move forward with great sense of peace.
I will include a few photos from last year to whet your appetite. I will keep you up to date with my new adventures.
With my love and prayers,