We were delighted to welcome Mariann and Gary Barker (above) as Guests on the most recent edition of the Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring Jay Hillz – our weekly radio show on Livingstone’s local radio station Zambezi 107.7fm. Mariann and Gary told our listeners that they were staying at Chanters Lodge for the weekend to celebrate their 48th wedding anniversary. “How did you meet?” We wanted to know, and Gary explained that they had been together at high school in California, their home state in USA. “So you were high school sweethearts?” I surmised. “No!” They said “We met up again later after high school when we both went to the same college and that’s when we started dating”. “Awwwww!” We said and congratulated them on their anniversary thanking them for choosing Chanters Lodge for their celebration.
Pastor Gary, to give him his correct title, told listeners that he and Mariann live in Choma in the Southern Province of Zambia and are the founders of Grace Baptist Church located in the showgrounds at Choma. Gary also teaches at, and operates, the Baptist Bible College and Institute of Choma where pastors are trained on a four year programme. The current number on training is seven. The couple have lived in Choma for seven years and Gary has been a pastor for some 33 years. The mission was founded in 1930 and has about 1200 missionaries worldwide. The missions are funded largely by individual donations leading to great interaction between the missionaries and the donors, and Gary told us that Mariann does a great job in sending photos and other information about their work in Choma back to donors in USA. “They love to see that lives are being changed in Zambia!” Said Mariann.
The music on the show was far from classical or gospel, this couple’s stated preference. We opened as usual with ‘Hey Brother’ from Avicii before dropping tracks from 5 Seconds Of Summer and Gorgon City. Jay and Milli Jam gave us numbers from Brinky ft Kantu, Casper Nyovest, Ne-Yo, Slap Dee and 2 Pac. No-one won the prize of a dinner for two with drinks at the lodge we offer each week on the show to a listener who can answer a simple question. Gary revealed that wife Mariann had been a brilliant drummer in her youth!
Mariann told us that the couple have three grown up children, four grandchildren and two great grand children back in the USA and that they miss them a lot! They were happy that Bart, their son, a policeman in California operating with a police dog, had been able to visit them in Zambia earlier this year with his family. The family had loved all the tourist activities they had been able to do at that time, including the one day safari to Chobe, the lion encounter and the microlight flight. Mariann had drawn the line at any member of the family being allowed to do the bungee jump! They also revealed that they were friends with Jo Brooks, proprietor of the Livingstone Crocodile Park although Mariann does not like going there! Gary revealed that Jo had told him ‘plenty of stories’! We moved on unsurprised – Jo was a Guest on our show a while ago so we could just imagine!
Asked where they would like to be and what they would like to be doing in ten years’ time, Mariann wanted to be back in America with her family, Pastor Gary wanted still to be ministering and to be close to his family at home.