Friday, November 20, 2009

The Hard Way is the Only Way

Zambians often do things the “hard way” (in my American opinion). To them, it is the way they have always done it, and it is the only way that they know. For example, we recently had a 30 – 40 foot dead tree in our yard cut down. It was done with no safety lines or even a ladder! Oh yeah, and not with a chainsaw, but an ax. The man who did it has been in this line of work for 25 years and was able to do the entire job without hitting the phone or power lines which were precariously close. I personally had a hard time watching him swinging an ax while standing on dead limbs more than two stories high. Despite doing it the hard way, the end result was the same even if it did take a bit longer (3 days). Speaking of doing things the hard way, all of the wood from those trees will be used as firewood to cook “the hard way” during various church functions over the next couple years or so.

Nowhere is the hard way of doing things in Zambia more evident than during our church building process. Building here is hard on workers, vehicles, and patience. To watch many of our members working hand-in-hand with the builders on our church site is truly a sight to behold. We have mixed both cement and concrete by hand using shovels and molded blocks, which is truly back-breaking work. The concrete floor slab was poured using wheelbarrows pushed (and pulled with a rope) by two men. No cement trucks here! My vehicle also has been working hard during these building days. It has been used for carrying anything and everything from workers to cement blocks to building sand and gravel to lumber and tools. It was recently out-of-commission for a few days when it had a broken spring sustained while ferrying, among other things, a half-ton of cement to the site. Finally this building program is teaching us patience out of necessity. For example, we have had to pay about 3.5 Million Kwacha (about $750) to have city water connected to our property. After making the payment, we dug the trench and laid the pipe to our plot. We then waited (mostly patiently) for the city to turn the water on. As of this writing, it has been 3 weeks, and we are still buying water from one of our neighbors as the city has not yet connected us.