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A Letter from Zambia

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Did you know that our own Sophia Stone, a member of Henrietta United Church of Christ, is serving this year in Zambia, in the Young Adult Volunteer program. It's a collaboration between the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Synod of Zambia. She lives in a village called Egichikeni and travels by bicycle to teach in a neighboring village, Emusa. The nearest town, Lundazi, is 2 hours away by car. Sophia writes: 


ZambiaI'm teaching 11th grade science (physics right now, but later I'll be moving onto chemistry/biology/ whatever they need) at Emusa Day Secondary School on Tuesdays & Thursdays. It’s going kind of slowly right now because the 9th and 12th graders are taking exams, so I only teach one two-period class per day. I'm paired with another teacher - one day he'll teach and I'll observe him & give feedback, and one day I'll teach and he'll give me feedback. Emusa is 7km (4.4 miles away from my village, so I bike there and back for work. 

I've been working on Mondays and Fridays at the Egichikeni clinic. By your standards, Egichikeni is very tiny. But for Zambia, it's a big village, because a road passes through it. At the clinic, I'm mostly observing so far because I'm not trained. I've learned how to identify positive and negative results on HIV and malaria tests, and sometimes they have me write down the results for their records. One day they had me put prescriptions into bags for people. 

The church building is just one large room made of brick with an iron sheet roof. There are two rows of backless benches for the adults on each side, and in the middle they put a mat down for the kids (the church is about half kids). There are four different choirs - Sunday school, men's, women's, and Christian Youth Fellowship. Worship always starts with all of the choirs performing. Then we sing some hymns in Tumbuka, and then we pray, mass prayer-style, meaning we all pray out loud at once. Then there's an offering, and then the preacher gives a sermon. Then there are some more hymns and we're done! There's a LOT of music so the service is usually around 3 hours. Also the CYF choir (the one I sing in) always sings twice - once at the beginning and once during the offering. 

Nobody in Egichikeni knows how to read sheet music. It's a mixture of languages - some English, some Tumbuka, some Cewa, some Bemba. We sing African spirituals. It's kind of hard to describe what they're like - sometimes I think they feel like gospel, sometimes like Bach chorales. When you add keyboard instead of singing a cappella, Zambian keyboardists usually go for an almost Latin feel that completely changes the vibe of the music. The Egichikeni CCAP prayer house choirs usually sing a cappella though, because the nearest keyboardist (unless you count me) lives in Emusa. 

My host family is lovely. My host parents John and Catherine Liche, both in their 60’s, have 10 kids. The youngest is my age, but he's in 11th grade. He goes to boarding school in Lundazi so we only see him every once in a while. I have two host nieces living in the house because grandparents will often recruit female grandchildren to help around the house once their children are all grown up. My nieces' names are Blessings and Eunice. Blessings has fantastic English for a 13-year-old, probably because her grandpa has great English and practices with her a lot. I'm trying to teach her a little bit of piano. Eunice doesn't know much English because she's only 7, but she's very enthusiastic about speaking Tumbuka with me, even when I don't understand her and she can't translate. Yesterday she was drumming on the sofas and I beatboxed along with her. Also, the name Liche means Stone in Tumbuka! 

It's amazing to think of our connection to the people of Zambia through the world-wide body of Christ!  To read more about the YAV program, check out Sophia’s latest blog: Sophia's year in Zambia.

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