This post is coming to you from my study break, while I bake fresh olive oil bread, as I rock out to Teen Party on Spotify and whilst our reliable power has gone out…yet again. This has become my new norm.
This last week I had one of the sweet missionary girls from Southern ask me, over burritos, how I liked being a housewife. Now we had been having a pleasant conversation prior about adjusting to Zambia, how Wes and I had met and how I hadn’t changed my last name to Arnold because I love my name Chapman, so when she asked me about my housewifery, I thought I almost heard an audible car crash and tires screeching. Thank goodness she couldn’t see the shivers that ran down me and that tiny woman in my head start screaming and start breaking dishes and throwing stuff every which way. I blinked at her to come to life again after the horrific scene I had just experienced, only to address her as nicely and as Adventistly as I could, “I absolutely hate it!” And I took a big bite out of my burrito so that I wouldn’t be able to say anything else that might get us kicked out of Zambia.
Being missionaries has always been Wesley and my plan. Part of that plan was coming to Zambia for Wes to take over the Dental Clinic here. He’s been doing brilliantly taking charge of the clinic in Dr. Paul Yoo’s absence. Managing well when a worker left or scheduling conflicts. He’s gotten to know his workers by eating shima (typical Zambian meal) with them at lunch and getting to know them and their families. We’ve baked cookies for them and gave them Christmas poppers during the holidays. Wes has also gotten involved in a futbol league here and immediately become the defense captain and goalie specialist. Everyone on the team consults him on matters of the team and he, of course, takes it very seriously and does research on how to make goalies better. So, as you can imagine, Wes is having a wonderful impact here and people love him! Though it’s no surprise because even back home everyone knew who Wes was, either because of his luscious locks or as my mother-in-law would call it, his golden retriever attributes. Needless to say, Wesley is assimilating beautifully here and I couldn’t be more proud of him.
I, on the other hand, can’t seem to find my footing here. Every time I think I’m getting somewhere, it’s just a mirage, and I find myself even further away than I thought. I absolutely love teaching but one thing that is a b*tch about being a teacher is that they only hire at certain times of the year. It’s not like nursing or lawyering where you can just step into a job at any time of the year. No, I am ruled by the academic system and since we got here in November, for reasons I know I’ve vented to many of you about, I had no such luck in securing a job for this academic year. So, I will have been jobless for a year. ONE ENTIRE F*ING YEAR I will be unemployed. Doing nothing. No purpose really. Do you know how depressing that is? Now I was optimistic at first and I went to tons of schools where I was simply put on the sub list, fine. But that was going nowhere, so I then started contacting random furniture places because I liked their pieces and wanted to see if they were hiring anywhere! Nothing. Okay. Then I went to hotels, retreats, lodges, asking to see if they need an event/wedding coordinator. No such luck. The UN strongly dislikes Americans, so apparently not gonna happen. And well there’s only a plumbing job available at the US Embassy. So, I’m cooking to pass the time and when I’m not cooking, I’m thinking about the next meal to cook. I mean, I’ve made pot pie from scratch, thai curry, refried beans (though I only fried them once), Belizean fried jacks, breads, bagels that were more like pretzels, cookies, stir-fry, fresh pasta sauce, gnocchi, applesauce, jello layers with fresh lychees (for potlucks cause I like to be cliché), and ramen. I’m also catching up on Sex & The City, Friends, Hart of Dixie, and Homeland. I also decided to start my master’s sooner since I’m sitting on my butt all day, so that just started this last week and is keeping me busy, otherwise, I’d still be going insane, rocking back and forth, crying every few days.
Now as I am writing this, Wes comes in from having talked to a young gentleman who came over to ask him if the Eye Hospital would sponsor him. Aston, a 20-something Zambian, is a young man who ran up to us yesterday after church asking if we could give him sponsorship/scholarship. We had no idea who this guy was or what a sponsorship even meant here in Zambia so we simply told him we would look into it for him. Fast forward to now, Sunday evening, and Aston stopped by the clinic to talk to Wes again and explain his circumstances. Apparently, he’s wanting to go to Apex, a very good medical school here, to become an eye doctor and come work for the Eye Hospital when he’s done. However, his family can’t afford the tuition. One of his brothers said he would help him pay for school but the brother only just started his first job, and is also starting his own family, so he’s unable to pay the upfront costs of the 1st semester. Aston is desperately looking for other means of payment and has applied for loans, other scholarships and asking friends for the money. He’s already had to put off his schooling for two years due to lack of funds and other familial issues. And get this, for one year of medical school it would cost him 12000 ZMW, that’s just roughly $1,200. So for the seven years of school it will take him to be a doctor here it’s about $8,400. When Wes told me this, I couldn’t believe I was complaining about my struggles on this blog when here is a driven young man trying to become a doctor for an amount of money that in the states people spend on just gifts during the holidays!
Then I get hit with it. That darned perspective. It’s something that’s thrust upon both of us quite often since being here. Just the other day we were out to eat and got a message that one of the workers at the clinic had his father pass away. That’s the second father we’ve had pass away in the last few weeks of someone we know here. Usually the cause is something simple and treatable but because there is no money, families are forced to let their loved ones die. It’s horrible and sadly, it’s very common here which is why the life expectancy is just about 57 years. This fact forces me to keep my chin up and dig myself out of my depressive state and keep moving because things could always be worse. And because we are doing decently well to Zambian standards, we have started a coin jar that we will fill and pull from when we find someone in need. It’s not much but it’s a start.