Zambia – the good and the challenging!

At the end of October, we traveled to Lusaka, Zambia to meet with all of the other MCC country representatives from African countries as well as some MCCers that work in our Headquarters in Akron and Winnipeg.  Here is a summary of the good and the challenging aspects of our trip:
Challenging – spending the night before traveling at an airport hotel and being woken up at 3am to get to the airport in time for our 5am flight
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So excited!  And looking bright – eyed and wide awake at 5 am!
Good – Natalie’s incredible excitement about being woken in the middle of the night to get on a plane – she loves flying!  She was getting excited about every little thing – when we were driving to the airport: “Mom, look at all the planes, Uganda has so many planes!”  And when we got out of the taxi at the airport:  “Mom, look at the white line on the ground (just a white line to mark where cars can park) – it’s so pretty!”

Good – the children’s play lounge at Nairobi airport.  This lounge was a lifesaver, especially since our flight to Zambia was delayed an hour.  Every airport should have one of these.

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The whole group
Good – getting to reconnect with the other new East African reps – 4 of the 5 countries have new reps, so we were all in orientation together.  It was great to see them all again and find out how everyone is doing several months into our placement
Good – getting to meet the other MCC Africa reps, hear more about the work MCC is doing in Africa, and getting some good ideas to implement in our Uganda program
Challening – NEITHER of my kids would stay in the childcare!  Natalie is generally very hesitant with new people, and Nathan is in the stage where he has a lot of separation anxiety.  So Natalie spent most of the meetings in the corner watching movies, playing on our kindle, or playing right outside of the meeting room, and Nathan spent most of the meetings sleeping in his carrier, playing on the floor, or screaming in childcare.  A good summary view of my divided attention is the one time when I was supposed to share something in front of the group:
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A typical scene – trying to focus in a meeting while keeping Nathan happy
Right before this session, I received news that Nathan was screaming in childcare, so I went to nurse him quickly and calm him down.  The meeting was starting so I handed him off to Muigai, but he was still hungry so he started screaming.  Muigai took him on a walk to calm him down, and Natalie came up to me and said she had to go to the bathroom.  I took her quickly to the bathroom (but every mom knows the more you try to hurry up a 3 year old, the slower they move!) and then took my seat in the front of the room.  As I was talking and trying to focus on what I was saying, I noticed that Natalie had abandoned her movie and was twirling around in the curtains in the back of the room!

Good – being grateful once again that MCC is such a family-friendly organization and nobody minded my two kids hanging around the meetings all week.

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Good – reconnecting with Boniface Chembe, a Zambian friend from EMU, meeting his wife, and having him show us around Lusaka and tell us more about the history and current political situation in Zambia.  It’s a beautiful, well organized city with great roads!

Challenging – the heat!  Zambia was hot – in the 90s all week.  Having Nathan spend so much time sleeping in his carrier was like having a mini-furnace strapped to my chest!
Good – getting to visit an animal park in Zambia – Natalie had a great time seeing the animals and playing on their huge playground with Muigai, and I got to rest in the shade with Nathan.
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On our way to the animal park!
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 Challenging – Having another trip planned to Masaka in Southern Uganda just days after returning from Zambia.  I have to say I am pleasantly surprised at how well the children have handled all the traveling, and I will write more about our trip to Masaka in the next post…
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