I am still unsure of why I have the privilege of writing here, but I will take advantage of it and hopefully not waste your time in the process. :)  (if you don't know me, I am Jacob, just a guy who is living in Africa to help provide clean water to people who don't have it) Instead of writing for you about the importance of helping people and the need for everyone to be doing something –something right where you are, right now – to give assistance to people who, through a set of circumstances (and likely bad choices), now are unable to help themselves {though you will see evidence of my belief in that scattered in my writings}, I am simply going to tell you some of the adventures of being in a foreign land trying to do my part. (longest opening sentence ever. I understand if you stop reading now, but the good part is just ahead.)

Is it possible to live a lifetime worth of experiences in only 6 weeks? Had you asked me that question 5 months ago, I would have told you “no”. Yet, these past six weeks in Zambia have proven my thought to be wrong. Even the day I arrived was filled with enough drama to go back home and call it a good trip. I arrive in the country right before the announcement of who the elected president would be. If it goes one way, there are riots and people die; if it goes the other way, there is celebration like you’ve only imagined (or most likely more than you could imagine). So I am dropped at the guest house with no food, no water, no idea where I am, and instructions to stay hunkered down for the next two days until it’s apparent that it’s safe out. The news comes the next day that it’s the good outcome and there is mass celebration. Thanks to that, plans are changed and I am un-abandoned and witness the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen. Then I find myself standing on the stage at the inauguration of the new president because I am white and carrying a fancy camera and so assumed (though nobody ever asked) to be a journalist. So the worst night of life turns into one of the best days of my life.

Every single day is an adventure. Each day since my arrival, the day has unfolded in such a way that I could write a whole story on that day alone. I have had motorcycle wrecks (not too serious, mom, though my shoulder might be permanently damaged), dug a car out of the sand with our bare hands, gone swimming in a 400ft deep sunken lake with high cliffs surrounding it, sat in the house of a Chief (kind of a big deal), walked 2 miles to see a village because the road was impassable, driven a motorbike through a small river, canoed alone in an African dugout canoe in crocodile infested waters, visited a huge game park, driven many times on the wrong side of the road (the left side is the driving lane here and you sit on the right, and I still feel like I might die every time), been offered land (I might accept), eaten chicken that I watched being caught and killed, bathed with only a washcloth, soap, and a tiny container of water to rinse with, had breakdowns, broken two camera lenses (took one apart and fixed in a village), eaten tons of things I didn’t know exactly what I was putting in my mouth, ridden countless hours on busses, climbed trees to film people hanging out in the trees, spoken to large groups of people, “greased palms” to squeeze a 2-6 month process into a week, et cetera, et cetera. Even now, I am on a bus on a 9 hour journey back to Lusaka, listening to some great Zambian music (but cringing at the accompanying video), surrounded by smelly, sweaty, hot people and crying babies. Oh yeah, and I am getting to see elephants, all kinds of antelope and deer-like animals, hippos, zebra, etc.

And with every adventure comes a chance to learn. A chance to grow. A chance to be grateful. As a chief showed up at the house this morning to see me off (yeah, that is a HUGE deal), I realized that I might be the luckiest guy on the planet. That I have more to be thankful for even in my six weeks here than I could begin to put down on paper. Each of the events in the above paragraph have their own accompanying story and proof that I am more blessed than I ever deserve. I am experiencing the kind of life that I wouldn’t have matched in my wildest dreams. But at the same time seeing people that are living the worst lives you could imagine. Yesterday I visited a village that had a huge valley that was pockmarked with hand-dug holes 6-12 inches in diameter that the villagers were using to scoop water out of with cups, bowls, and whatever they could find to draw the water from a couple of feet below ground level. And the field was up to 2 kilometers from some of their huts. If you, the reader, have even an ounce of ungratefulness in you, I invite you to spend a week with me here. The month of November is usually the time we use in the States to give thanks for our blessings. I know that hearing of how others have it worse than you, does not make your personal struggles any easier. But I assure you that a small change of perspective could make even the most hopeless person be able to regain their ability to be thankful. I couldn’t be more thankful for this life of “poverty” I have chosen that I might give others a reason to be thankful. So I encourage you not only be thankful for what you have, but be thankful for the power you have to help others. And if you are still struggling with it, visit me here in Zambia. Cure is guaranteed.

** SELF-PLUG** You can follow my adventures at water282.org and feel free to drop me a line at Jacob@water282.org

ps-sorry for the crappy iPhone photos. I have tons and tons of great photos, but none of me, and none of elephants, so I went with the iPhone ones. Sorry. I hope it never comes to that again. :)