One Week

So it has officially been a week. One week filled with laughter, hospitality, bug bites, singing, learning, butt-pinching chairs, and, most of all, an over abundance of taco seasoning. I must admit, I never really understood the saying “the days feel long but the weeks feel short”. However, after these last few days, I can see it starting to resonate with me more and more. It feels like yesterday I was sitting anxiously in the SeaTac airport ready to embark on this journey.

Zags arrive in Zambia with Father Dominic, our escort through Lusaka.

I can remember everything so vividly, except maybe that one time I apparently fainted within the first hour of our flight to Dubai. (Don’t worry, mom. I’m fine… really!) Over the course of last semester, people would come up to me asking if I was ready to go to Zambia. I would say, “Yes!” very excitedly except it never felt so real until the moment when we watched our first sunset in Zambezi. I have seen many beautiful sunsets in my life; however, that first one across the Zambezi River was incomparable to the rest. I stood and watched the sun slowly sink into what seemed like an infinite horizon as my new young friends, Keith and Sombo, held both my hands.

In some ways, time here is like an African sunset. You look out into the distance and take it all in. After a few moments you then start to wonder when the sun is actually going to set. You’ll then feel a small tug on your hand and start to engage in the little chatter. Then you look back up and the sun has almost completely vanished and you start to wonder how it slipped away from the sky that quickly.

Sunset over Zambezi River
PC Easy Money (Elly Zykan)


Time here is similar in this sense. Between the teaching, running down to the market, conversing with so many new people, and trying to find time to reflect, I’ll often find myself feeling lost within the day. The moment from when I wake up and go to bed seems much more distant in Zambezi than when I am at home. However, with this being said I woke up today and was able to look back on this week as a whirlwind of events.

I think the combination of these two feelings causes me perceive time here as quickly moving, yet so still. There are many moments that I know will pass by in a few quick beats, yet I desperately want them to remain imperishable in my mind.

Last Saturday Mckenzie and I got to stay overnight with Janet, a Zambian woman who welcomed us into her little concrete house with the most open arms. As we sat down and ate nshima, chicken, and what seemed to be some fish puree (sorry again mom, I will still never like fish) on the floor of Janet’s living room with her family, I thought to myself and wondered when the next time I will be able to experience this again.

This past week, I have found myself having many of these moments. There are times when Keith and Sombo, along with other kids, will laugh at me when I completely butcher a word or saying in their beautiful tribal language of Luvale. I want to remember these laughs five years from now with the same clarity as today. I want to remember Mama Violet’s enchantingly raspy voice, the games that Zambian kids will show us, the sweet taste of a small banana, the chanting of “chindele” by the children, the deep contemplation of which chintenge to buy, the lively celebrations I can hear outside my window each night as I go to bed, the beat of the drums during church, and the insurmountable joy everyone gets when another victim falls to the butt-pinching chair. I want to remember all these ordinary moments just like the seemingly infinite horizon that lies across the Zambezi River. If this is what the first week has brought me, then I can’t express in words how eager I am to see how these next three weeks unfold before us. Stay tuned, I can assure you that it’ll be quite a story to tell after the long days and short weeks here in Zambia come to an end.

Valerie Fetzer

Class of 2020

P.S. Happy early birthday to you Mom! I love you more than you know and am sorry I won’t be there to celebrate but I can assure you that I’ll be bearing some super cool gifts from Zambezi when I see you. Good luck to you and Kurt as you move out of the house. Can’t say I’m too bummed to miss out on all the fun unpacking but nonetheless I wish you guys the best. I hope you enjoy your last few weeks in “The Creek” and be sure to eat a Morrucci’s sandwich for me.

P.S.S. Don’t worry I didn’t forget you and everyone else Dad. I love you guys too and miss you so so much. I see both James and Logan in many of the kids here. (Except I haven’t come across a kid who is as crazy as Logan although I have come close a few times).

P.S.S.S. To the people who know who they are, thank you for supporting me through it all and always making me laugh. I carry that same laughter here and miss you all very much and cannot wait to be able tell more stories.

Goodnight, I’m really tired.

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8 Responses to One Week

  1. Moose Wheeler says:

    So glad to hear things are well❤️ I’m sending all my best wishes and prayers your way for you and all the people you encounter. Hopefully Mama Violet got some sleep with your obnoxious snoring! I can’t wait to hear all your stories and see your pictures and most of all see you again. I’ll be thinking of you and missing you! Keep having the experience of a lifetime.

    Love ,

  2. Mark and Jo Ann Fetzer says:

    We read your blog together and are so excited about everything you wrote. You always were such a good writer and we can see this trip has inspired the writer in you too! We’re sure that many of these experiences you will remember forever! We’re both so proud of your initiative of wanting to be a part of this and love you so much!!

  3. Venezia says:

    Hey Chindeles!

    Valerie – It seems like you are starting to fall into perfect Zambia time. I loved your descriptions about the different ways you’ve felt. Your experiences are going to stay with you for a long time, even if it feels like they go by so quickly.

    Jimmy – I hope you’ve been able to get some rest after what sounds like a long first few days. How was the first computer class!?!? I feel like the four of you definitely killed it and even if it doesn’t feel like you know what you’re doing, I promise you that your students are thankful to have a computer to work with. Keep up all the great work .

    Taylor – You are so met to be in Zambia today. I am so proud of you and all of the heart you have put into this journey. You are worthy and you are loved. The men and women you have interacted with this week are blessed to know you. Don’t forget that. You are a light and you are just the beginning to set this world on fire. ( tryna keep it #jesu-lit)

    Zambaes, keep up all your love and grace. You are on one of the coolest journeys that Gonzaga has to offer and I hope you are all beginning to feel the magic that is Zambezi. This includes all things bugs, sickness, and strange food. Names the bugs because they are your pets for the month, laugh at the sickness because soon it will be extremely funny, and enjoy the food.

    Kisu Mwane,

  4. Peggy Sue Loroz says:

    Mad photo skillz, Elly Z! Hope you and the rest of your Zags are having an awesome time! Love how you pop up in these stories like some spirit animal that crosses a person’s path just when he or she needs the strength, courage, or fortitude to climb a treacherous water tower, fight a tenacious mosquito or face the zinger chair! Keep on nudging and guiding and accompanying and growing!

  5. Kurt Miller says:

    Hello Valerie!!! So great to hear from you on this blog. I look forward to hearing all about your trip and the many wonderful experiences.


  6. Claudia Bisso-Fetzer says:

    My dear sweet Valerie,

    What an amazing week! You made me smile when I read your lines..”days feel long but weeks feel short” yes, you’re right. Love to know you have new young friends: Keith and Sombo. How old are they? and what a colofur bus your guys had! Faint??oh my!… Lions and tigers!…glad you’re fine.
    Thank you for sharing your fresh, energetic and positive experience. You made me visualize how blessed you, your team and the beautiful people of Zambezi are with this impressive nature you guys are in. There is so much to do over there, that I’m really thinking about the African proverb Fr Barraza shared….when morning comes, you better start running…thank you Fr Barraza for sharing it and thank you Kisu and Kelen for pass it on!
    All the beautiful experiences in your narrative gives me the assurance that you are having an extraordinary time of giving and receiving. Hopefully one of these days you decide to try some Janet’s home made fish purée with the enchanting voice of Mama Violet!!
    My dear sweet daughter, Thank You so much for your always kind messages to me and specially for this one about my upcoming B-day that far from the distance, it feels so close in my heart ❤️

    I’ll stay tuned and you guys go go go along with the long days and short weeks. Enjoyed reading the previous blogs!…Go Zags!!!
    With the beat of drums and bells in my heart, I’ll pray for you, for the Gonzaga-in Zambezi family and for the new friends you’re making in Zambezi.

    Love you dearly and God bless you, the Zags and the beautiful people in Zambezi,

    Mom ❤️

    P.S. Definitely will enjoy my last weeks in “The Creek” with a Morrucci’s sandwich on your name one of these days! and a few boxes will be waiting for you in your new room!

  7. Jim Ridenour says:

    The blogs are so well written that I feel like I am there, except of course for the 14 hour flight. You all are very special people.

    Taylors Dad

  8. Jennifer Akins says:

    Chimene mwane chindeles, Mmas and other friends!

    I have been traveling the past week while checking the blog, following you in silence until now. Thank you to all of you for sharing your observations and yourselves during this first week. I’ve just re-read all the blogs to date and I stand in awe of your open hearts, your curiosity, your loving spirits and your resilience, the latter of which I know will be tested and strengthened in the days to come, so remember that individually and collectively, you’ve got this!

    Your descriptions have brought back so many memories: the juxtaposition of Dubai with Zambezi (Chris), greeting the race of each day joyfully with more dirt on my feet than I had ever imagined loving (Kelen), the giddy smile that I couldn’t wipe off my face all the way from Lusaka to Zambezi (even during the “event”) (Jessica), the constant (and eventually even comfortable) tension between being the participant and the observer (Morgan), the feeling of immense awe and incredible humility that comes with being the recipient of such pure hospitality (Jimmy), and the expansiveness of the infinite horizon across the river that made me feel that Zambezi was my home and “the other side” was still waiting for me. One day I want to experience the other side of Mize.

    There are so many things I’d love to say to you all, but you don’t need to hear them. You need to get up from the table, get out into the community. Don’t wait until the end to invite someone out for a coke or to join you on a walk. Go today. Your experiences will be both as similar to and as different from each other’s as Kelen’s and Jessica’s experiences climbing, yet as you join what each of you brings to Zambezi and what Zambezi offers up to you, you are creating something entirely new. So, though I’ve been where you are, I know that I have never known what you, collectively, know today. I’m only a little bit jealous of this, mostly so very happy for those of you who I know and those who I don’t know.

    Greetings to Katendi, Violet, Gabriel, John, Julius, Steven, Josephine, Mma Love, Chiwala, Jessy, everyone at Chilenga, Dom (when you see him again) and so many more!

    Kisu mwane,

    Jennifer Akins

    P.S. How are you all enjoying the “welawewe” of your rooster friends?

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