A visit to Solwezi

Monday, April 09, 2018
Solwezi, Northwestern Province, Zambia
We left early this morning for the three and a half hour drive out to Solwezi on the main highway through the Copperbelt. The first time I had been on this road was in 2014 and it was terrible. Massive copper ore trucks were beating up what was left of the tar.  Parts of the road were built by the Chinese, Europeans and possibly others.  It is a dangerous road. You can be going 100 km per hour and then suddenly without any warning hit potholes.  Huge potholes. Or, be diverted to a temporary road while the main road is “repaired.”  Or, be on bone and teeth-jarring washboard that was destroying our vehicles suspension systems. 
See postings on LifeNets websites about our work in Solwezi: 
This was not a journey for an inexperienced driver.  One had to know the road…and Derrick Pringle knew every bit of it.  I wouldn’t dare drive it at night. There are no lights; the people are black and often wear clothing that does not reflect light well. While this is the main road across the northern border of Zambia, people are every where on it – just wandering on the side.  Or, worse, sitting dangerously on the side. And, children.  Children are walking in groups going to work in the fields or going to school.  They look so poor…because they ARE poor.  I feel for them.  They were born into poverty.  They live in dangerous conditions. I wonder how many children die in accidents?  I don’t want to think about it.
The presence of the Chinese is quite noticeable.  Copper attracts them.  They mine and haul it back to China. There are trucks, one after another hauling ore to smelters.  There are trucks carrying smelted copper in sheets like iron ingots which is the best way to describe it.  All headed for ports to haul it Europe and beyond.  Also, the road is filled with huge tanker trucks hauling fuel.  There is no pipeline and all fuel has to be hauled on this God-forsaken road.
You see small bus taxis carrying lots of people between various points on this “lifeline. ”  Each has a religious platitude on the front such as “God First.” “Trust God” which seem almost to mock or not take God seriously in the midst of such a scene.  The Chinese and others who have come here to mine the minerals and put nothing back or bring any beauty to the environment. Someone’s getting rich off of all this, but the lack of care or respect for the inhabitants of this land is unspeakable. 
Some sell produce, chickens, sugar cane along the route. 
On this stretch of road we have four United Church of God congregations where God has people, many of whom are praying “Thy Kingdom Come.”  The congregations are yesterday’s Mufulira, today’s Solwezi, tomorrow’s Mufumbwe and Manyinga that we will not get to on this trip.
We arrive in Solwezi about noon.  Since the people had a lunch prepared for all, we decided to eat first and then have the service.  The young adults cooked the meal of local chicken, nsima, beef stew (brought by Cherry Pringle), beans.  It was tasty.  People really enjoy themselves as we all eat in the church hall.   It was good talking to people that I had gotten acquainted a year ago when Bev and I were here and dedicated this building.
Rod Epomba greets us.  So, did his brother Alex.  Of course, the always cheery deacon Chonga Chonga. Vincent Kapatula along with others. 
Then I spoke. They wanted to hear about the home office and what our workers and ministers are like around the world.  They are very keen on the workings of the United Church of God. 
Then I gave a sermon about prayer. 
The church is quite musical.  There were several special music numbers. They sang songs.  I enjoyed their rendition of “Ancient Words.”  There was a total of three pieces of music….one which was sung by teens at the end of the service. The choir is directed by Evonne Epomba.
Most of the afternoon we spent talking and counselling with people. There are lots of kids. Total attendance today was 83 in a building that is already being outgrown one year since grand opening.
We met with the scholarship students as well talked to the ladies who received sewing machines last year and are making their own clothes and also selling clothes to others.  
We stayed the night at the Matunda Lodge on a rushing river.  The Pringles always stay here and this is our second time. I like to go to places where we had been before. It brings back happy memories of doing things together.
We were the only people staying at the lodge this night and the next.
We had dinner here tonight and will be leaving at 7 am tomorrow for Mufumbwe for our third city on this tour. 
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