Maybe some of you have heard of Flat Stanley and his adventures. If not, let me explain. Flat Stanley is a children's book about a boy he gets flattened by a bulletin board. A little gruesome I know but lots of children's things are actually somewhat frightening (how creepy is the song about the old lady who swallowed a fly? but I digress.) Because of his flattened state, Stanley is then able to be put in an envelope and go visit his friend in another part of the country.
Inspired by Stanley's adventures, teachers all over the United States have taken to having their classes produce "Flat People" that are then mailed all over the world. A letter is sent with Stanley encouraging the receiver to take pictures of flat Stanley doing cool stuff. We received a Flat Stanely recently and since I already had everything typed up, I thought you might enjoy reading the letter that we returned.
Note: For anomymity reasons, I do not name the sender. But dear sender, please note this letter isn't identical to the one I sent you. The words have been changed a little.
Dear sender of Flat Stanley,
I am sure you have been wondering where in the world Stanley has been. Well, let me tell you…he has been on an adventure. Stanley’s journey got off to a slow start because he spent a lot of days forgotten and neglected in a postal box in the town of Kitwe, Zambia. When he was picked up things started to get a little crazy. One of the first things he noticed when he finally got out of his envelope was the fact that people drive on the opposite side of the road here! Weird! He ended up staying with the Wiegands most of the time. But they have had quite a lot of flat people visit them since they moved to Zambia. So, they passed him to one of their team members to take for a few days.
Our team is a group of Americans who are all working in Zambia to run both a farm and a school. Stanley’s first night was spent getting to know our team. Here is at our weekly team Brinner. (having breakfast for dinner) The people on our team are from Indiana, California and Texas. He even spent some time riding a pretend camel while the adults had a meeting and prayer time.
Zambia is an exciting place but there are some things that made Stanley scared and sad too. First off, there are snakes in Zambia that can hurt you. Once while Stanley was here we saw a spitting cobra in one of our farm fields. Stanley wouldn’t even go outside because he was so scared! Lots of kids here are very poor. They often don’t have enough food to eat or nice clothes to wear. Many of them don’t get to go to school. They live in small houses and lots of times they are orphans. We know one place where 7 boys live together and they only have a small twin bed in their house. There isn’t always great medical care either. And lots of people get malaria. That made Stanley feel really down. But he noticed that the kids still smiled a lot. They built cool toys out of the things that they had. Like empty milk containers, pieces of wire, and other things.
And visiting Lifesong School made him very happy. The kids there are able to get an education for free because people in America love and support them and because the workers at Lifesong Farm sell berries to pay for everything they need! Also, the school feeds the students twice a day. That made Stanley really happy! He spent a day at the school and helped cook lunch. You can see him helping to stir a giant pot of nshima, the staple food in Zambia. It’s made from cornmeal. You have to be really strong to stir this big pot!! Then of course he had to help clean up. He also met the headmaster and had tea time with some of the teachers. He also learned that Lifesong has a nurse to take care of the kids when they are sick. Everywhere Stanley visited in Zambia he was met with smiles and laughter. People thought it was really fun to take pictures with him and to see us taking pictures of him in different places.
|Having tea with some teachers|
|Cleaning up after lunch with Mama Jennifer|
|Meeting Headmaster Luke|
One of the very first things that happened to Stanley at the school was he got put through a laminator. It is rainy season here right now, so he kind of had a permanent rain jacket! Also, we really wanted him to be protected from malaria carrying mosquitos and crocodile bites. Which we weren’t sure how much it would really help, but at least he stayed dry!
Soccer is a big deal in Zambia. Everyone plays it. Not everyone can afford to buy a real ball though. Sometimes, balls are made out of garbage that is found lying around like plastic sacks or old clothes. So of course Stanley had to watch a match while he was here. While he was watching he saw some boys doing flips off of an old tire and Stanley felt like he had to try it out. The boys were nice so they decided to help him do some flips.
Where the members of the Lifesong team live, it’s not very busy on the streets and there aren’t too many stores close by. One day, Stanley went in to the town to the open air market. It was a little overwhelming for him, but he smiled the whole time anyway! It was really incredible to see all the things you could buy there! There was chitenge (which is cloth that ladies here use for skirts, balancing things on their heads, carrying babies on their backs and all kinds of other things!), carvings, clothes, shoes, watches, vegetables, fruits, suitcases, books, electrical parts, plumbing pieces, gardening hoes, garbage cans, and even TV remotes.
He had to watch for traffic. The bank was interesting to him. There weren’t any American dollars there! Only Zambian kwacha. He looked at the exchange board and saw that one US Dollar is equal to about 6.5 Zambian kwacha. At the end of that day, Stanley was really tired, so the team took him out for pizza. Sometimes, when you are visiting a country different from your own, it is so nice to eat something familiar.
|Waiting in line...er queue (as they say in Zambia) at the bank|
|Stanley was surprised to see much new construction in town when in other areas the people are so poor.|
|Working stoplights! Yay!|
|Watch for cars!|
Before he left, Stanley had the opportunity to worship with Zambian believers. He was a little nervous at first because it felt different than what he was used to. The drums were very loud and he really isn't much of a dancer. (it's hard to dance when you are stiff from being laminated!) Plus, he didn't understand iciBemba which is the language they speak here. The longer he was there, he realized that the Spirit was in that place. He remembered the verse that talks about "settling on the far side of the sea" and He smiled because He knew God was with Him even in that place.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:9-10
|Riding in the back of a pick up to church. This is not illegal in Zambia!|
|Greeting everyone at the end of the church service.|
Stanley ended up flying back to America with a friend from California. His protector was Dr. Judy Johnson but the Wiegand kids sometimes called her Dr. Strawberry. She visited Zambia from Plant Sciences, Inc. The whole team was so grateful for her consulting advice. She spent time encouraging the farm ladies too! A team from Texas was here at the same time and things were crazy for a little while. The workers in Zambia love to have teams visit to see what God is doing in Zambia. It is an exciting and encouraging time for everyone.
It was a long flight back to the States and so Stanley just slept the whole time in his envelope. His new California friend slipped him by the post office and then he traveled back to you! Thanks for giving us the opportunity to get to know Stanley and teach him a little bit about Zambia! I hope you enjoyed hearing about his adventures.
From, The Wiegands
p.s. I thought you might like to see some photos from when another "flat person" was visiting. This young lady came all the way from Colorado.
Riding in our van during rainy season and experiencing the potholes for herself.
Hitching a ride with some young mango harvesters
Enjoying a traditional Zambian meal at one of our worker's homes
meeting some new friends in the compound