Macha Library Wish List (rd. 2.)

Eric and I arrived in Macha, Zambia with a few soccer balls and all sorts of ideas and dreams for how life and ministry might evolve. There’s a lot five years has taught us-but above most else, it’s that the problem with all our ideas and dreams was that they were pretty exclusively ours.

We felt like sports ministry was a good fit in Macha for a number of reasons-and we still absolutely believe that to this day. What I didn’t understand then, was that my perspectives and opinions were all based primarily on how western ministry operates out of the western church. All of that made sense my entire life-having lived in the western world. But transitioning all those ideas and dreams to southern Africa wasn’t as inclusive of other perspectives as it could have been.

We’ve reevaluated and restructured decision making to be more inclusive of our staff and less centered around Eric and I. We’ve tried to ask questions of the community-willing to receive their answers and advice. And we’re very quick to celebrate the ways ministry continues to evolve through the vision and guidance of Push The Rock Zambia (PTRZ) staff.

And so, when handing out books from our back porch turned into a one bookshelf library in the recreation center, we celebrated that growth. And when one bookshelf became two and then two became a proper lending library each weekday afternoon, we celebrated again. And when our ‘librarians on campus’ came back from a training and requested we move our bookshelf library from the busy and loud recreation center to a proper library space, we celebrated that vision.

And it’s with an enormous amount of privilege I’m able to share a bit about that vision with those who follow this little blog and asked about ways they can be involved.

The library vision has evolved slowly but surely. The borrow and return library concept is fairly uncommon in a place like Macha-as there aren’t any within over an hour. Schools aren’t filled with literature or individual resources for each student and books aren’t as readily available. When we shared that reality with friends and family a few years ago, people were incredibly generous in meeting that need and filling the PTRZ shelves.

And thanks to the commitment, prayer, and vision of staff-we are ready to evolve the library from two bookshelves on wheels to a proper local lending library building with classrooms and study space. In the future, we hope to add a learning program, computer lab, and classes-for kids + adults. It’ll sit next to the Recreation Center on campus and be an extension of what we’re already doing-creating spaces that are community focused and can point people to Jesus.

We feel so grateful that PTRZ staff saw and communicated the need-and together we’ve considered how and when to get involved. That our earlier approach to ministry was more exclusive than we’d like to admit-but our staff were gracious and patient as we learned how to more effectively work together.

For those who asked, our goal is to raise $25,000. That will cover the cost of the building-the shelves and tables and chairs (and beanbags + colorful carpets for kids to relax in!) It’ll also leave some money to purchase some additional books. We’ve shared an Amazon Wish List a few years ago, and will do the same again. The link is organized to send the books to Corie’s parents home-to be packed up and sent to Zambia with visitors coming throughout the year.

We’ve been so privileged to walk with the ministry that is PTRZ-the people and the place and the vision have been a real team effort, and we are so grateful. If you’re interested in helping to grow the Macha Public Library, the link is below.

Amazon Wish List

–> At CHECKOUT, you’ll be given the choice to ship to Gift Registry Address (Corie Thuma-PTRZ.)

To those who asked about giving financially, that can be done by going to the Push The Rock website and selecting the “Thuma, Eric” option found here .
Many thanks to the ever generous community of people who trust team Push The Rock Zambia and celebrate the vision + growth with us. Our hearts are full + we can hardly wait to update as the Macha Public Library becomes a reality soon enough! xo.

(ptrz is) five.

It’s been challenging to find the words to altogether communicate how grateful we are to have celebrated five years of Push The Rock Zambia. Five feels like a big deal-and it’s been a milestone I’ve anticipated reaching…for five years now ; )

We arrived in Zambia to our brand new home-and an acre of land ready to be used for whatever the future was going to hold. We knew two truths, that soccer is well loved in a place like Macha and that Jesus is who He said He is. The past five years have been founded on those two truths-and our lives and ministry here have evolved based on the things we’ve learned since those first days.

ONE: And we had so much to learn. The easiest place to start was at a surface level-food + dress + language. We took Tonga lessons and I bought chitenges to wear. The girls learned how to dance like their friends and we quickly fell in love with nshima. The emotional level of early learning was low and the first few months felt blissful and easy. The reality was we had to dig deeper if we were going to invest our whole selves into life in Macha. It took more emotional energy, but we started to better understand things like modesty in its historical context, ideals of raising children and the attitude of dependents, nature of friendships, and patterns of group decision making. We try daily not to settle into an attitude of cynicism-not to correct-and not to compare. Prior to moving to Zambia, all I’d ever known was American living. The learning curve has been steep but our community here has been all too gracious.

TWO: The dignity and worth of people in places like Macha has not always been preserved by people like me. And at the risk of engaging in storytelling that unknowingly exploited-or manipulated-or fabricated stories, we’ve intentionally under shared on social media. Faith based organizations and other NGO’s love to tell stories that are not ours to tell and we are not here for that.  As an American, I can hardly share such complex narratives when I’m still learning unspoken and unconscious rules within the culture here. We push back against words like ‘orphan + vulnerable’ and the only pictures of children with dirt covered faces are Charlotte, Reece + Luca. The media loves to center stories of Africa around poverty and AIDS and hunger-and while those are sometimes realities, people aren’t represented or identify as being defeated or defined by them.

THREE: We are all far more similar than we are different. Dynamics like poverty and privilege have created divisions that exclude and discount some while advancing and developing others. I’m forever trying to better understand what this means in places like America and places like Zambia. To keep asking the questions, who is being included and who is being excluded and why is that.

FOUR: When leaving my house felt overwhelming and hard, my compromise was inviting people over and I learned how life giving hosting is. It’s been the greatest joy to have people to our home-both the folks who stay for weeks or months and those who just come for a meal. I feel so grateful for new acquaintances and dear friends we’ve been privileged to sit around our kitchen table with.  Our door is always open and food can be ready in no time-consider yourself welcome.

FIVE: Our goal remains the same, that Push The Rock Zambia will be Zambian run and managed within the next five years. Our ten year goal was based on the idea that we could build a staff here in Macha, be trained and learn together, hand over responsibilities, and then walk away from a long term sustainable ministry. We feel confident the goal is obtainable, because the PTRZ staff are excellent + Jesus and soccer were a solid foundation upon which we began. Things have-and continue to-evolve thanks mostly to the vision of the staff and community here. We have been brought to tears time and again over God’s provision and the faithfulness of our communities both here and there.

Those are five of the major themes that help sum up five years in Macha. Overall though, we’re just so very grateful. Grateful for gracious neighbors + supportive family + devoted staff + committed friends who have loved our family well. Grateful for the wisdom and discernment of many that have grown and evolved ministry here. And grateful for Jesus who is exactly who He says He is.