This is our first time serving in another country, our first time living with Zambians, our first time “window” shopping in a 3rd world market. Too many firsts to list them all, but definitely our first time working for IVV in their Eye Clinic in Zambia. To describe it in a word, the experience is eye-opening (pun intended). We come from the central part of the US (Nebraska for those that know US geography), and we are quickly realizing just how fortunate we are – maybe taking for granted our education, healthcare, transportation, communications and so much more. When you work in a 3rd world country the differences are readily apparent.
However, this experience is enriching in so many ways, making us appreciate our fortune. With that in mind we are embracing the cultural differences to see life through another perspective. The most interesting experience our first day was attending chapel before beginning clinic. This simple daily ritual affords beautiful acapella music and a highly energetic sermon given in English and the dominant language of southern Zambia, Tonga. At this service, in particular the minister introduced our team to the community, and we were welcomed with a hearty laugh as he could not pronounce our names.
We will stay a week and are sure to see more firsts. For instance, we are looking forward to our first Zambian meal (Sylvia is a great cook but makes mostly western meals). It is comforting that guest house accommodations are good: there is running water, and yes, you can drink it, and every morning there is a hot shower and hot coffee to start our days off just like home.