Well we returned safely from the bush yesterday after a great week! After a six hour drive our team arrived at the chief's palace in Nyawa Kingdom to do ministry at a head man conference. Overland organized and ran the conference, inviting fifty five head men from around the kingdom. We were excited to see one hundred head men arrive, some who had walked 40km just to get there. Needless to say the conference was a huge success. The head men received training in Christian leadership from some of the full-time missionaries, and our team was able to build relationships with them as well as gather valuable information about their villages, which will go towards future partnerships. During one of the teaching sessions, one of the head men raised his hand to ask if the missionary speaking would come back more often because his teachings were so powerful. On the final evening of the conference, after a powerful message from Jake, our sector manager, seventy of the men attending stood up, held hands, publicly confessed their sins and repented of them. This sort of thing is virtually unheard of here and it was amazing to see God at work in these men's lives. Some of these head men are in charge of as many as twelve villages, which means a change in their hearts will affect thousands of Zambians, preserving their culture while bringing change through true relationships with Christ.
During some of the sessions our team went out to the villages surrounding the palace to work in the fields and hold meetings where we taught and encouraged the people. The first day out we harvested maize, which we're virtually pros at by now. On the third day of the conference a few of us (including myself) had the unique opportunity to walk 5km or so to Kalomba Village and encourage a church. Over lunch (where I got to try boiled corn in sour milk...mmmmmmm) the elders there told us we were the first white visitors to ever visit and socialize with the village. During the service (which lasts from sun-up to sun-down) I was able to share a testimony on God's grace and how badly He wants us to turn back to Him and be embraced by Him. It was truly a blessing to spend time with the people there and even more importantly put a new village on the map (well...at least GPS) and open doors for Overland to work with them in the future. Kalomba has no clean water access and the nearest school is at least an hour walk; I did it myself, and I can't imagine doing it every day, but for some it is comparatively close. Sustained future relationships would meet these needs and build upon the firm spiritual foundation that is necessary for any real change to occur.
With only five weeks left of AMT things are getting pretty busy. We had a guest speaker today and tomorrow we have our practical application for 4x4 off-road recovery. We'll head to the Botswana border, get an enormous flatbed truck stuck, get it unstuck, then head back to the base with a stop for ice cream on the way. I honestly can think of no better way to spend my 22nd birthday. Thank you all for your continued prayers, we live off of them out here.