Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's The Final Countdown



Hello Everyone!

Well AMT is officially over! It's hard to believe it, the three months have absolutely flown by, and looking back I can't believe how much I've learned.

We finished our last assignment a little over a week ago, then headed out for our final expedition. As a final test, this expedition was planned completely by our team and no Overland staff came with us. Besides forgetting all our kitchen supplies, the expedition was a complete success. It was by far the best ministry experience we've had since coming to Zambia and a great way to finish off the three months here. Our team drove ten hours out to a new chiefdom (called Simwatachela) that has never received aid of any sort, even from larger organizations such as the World Food Program. People came from the farthest corners of the chiefdom to a central village where we held meetings for three days. Many of the headmen attending told us they never thought the day would come where outsiders would come to their villages to bring help.

Our team spent the week preaching and encouraging the people at large meetings. We took attendance at one of our evening meetings and found out there were 593 people there in total. I had the honor of preaching a message of hope to all the men and also got to give a short testimony on putting faith into action at one of the later meetings. Every meeting was followed by people coming forward for prayer. Many wanted to receive Christ for the first time or recommit their lives to him, but many others wanted prayer for healing. I honestly think I laid hands on 150 people throughout the week, and we truly saw God move. Two of the men I prayed for came up with pains in their chests and backs, and even though I couldn't talk with them, they walked away with huge smiles on their faces and I could see that God healed them right before my eyes. This was not at all uncommon. I think my favorite message was preached by a Zambian guy named Jack. At the end of his message he could see the people didn't believe in God's power, so he had two of the oldest people come forward for healing right in front of everybody. They both got healed (of course!), and the old woman, who couldn't raise her hands above her head before this, spent the rest of the week raising them high into the air.



As always, the evenings were spent around the campfire, but this time they were a little different. Our teammate Jack couldn't help but go over to the camp of 70+ year old Zambian women and teaching them what is called the chitange dance. The phrase "shakey, shakey, shakey" became all too familiar, what a wonderful way to enjoy our time with God's daughters. One final adventure came when I got lost in the bush with a shovel and a roll of toilet paper (you can probably figure out what I was doing...). I spent an hour wandering around before I ran into some people who took me back to the camp, which doesn't seem like a big deal except for the fact that later in the day the chief asked one of my teammates about a someone in a red sweatshirt carrying a shovel. I'm confident this will soon become a fireside tale told by Zambian children to scare their younger siblings..."They say there's a mukuwa who wanders these parts, he carries a shovel and is looking to dig graves."

(As promised, a photo of Uncle Bob)

We held our graduation ceremony yesterday, and as you can see below, our tent was looking pretty good. It was a great final day with our team and I will truly miss this base and the people I've spent the last three months with. Tonight Dave, Rachel (one of our teachers for AMT), and I will catch an 8PM bus to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, to begin our first let of the trip to Bujumbura. From there we will take busses up the coast of Lake Tanganika until we arrive to begin work in Burundi. I am told in the first week we could be doing anything from preaching to 30,000 kids to digging wells, and I fully expect the entire month to continue in a similar fashion. Please pray for our safety in and on the way to Burundi, as well as for strong organization by the NGO we'll be working with there. Thanks to everyone for your continued prayers and support, I truly appreciate every one of you.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

One Crazy Day

Hello Everyone,

Things have been truly amazing here in Zambia with only three weeks left in AMT, and just when I thought things couldn't get any crazier, a day like today comes along...

After AMT I will be traveling to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, to work with Overland and an NGO called Aid for the World. Just a quick run down on Burundi: it's a small country (about the size of Maryland) right next to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo with about 9 million people. If you've seen the movie Hotel Rwanda you have a good idea of what happened in Burundi too, except Burundi was in civil war until 2005 (don't worry, it's safe now). Because of the genocide and lasting civil war, 46% of the population of Burundi is under 14 years of age. Today we were talking with the head of Overland and found out that from Aug. 1-8 children from the entire country (a LOT of children) will be in Bujumbura for a work project and we are expected to minister to them, possibly (probably?) hosting a conference. And by we I mean three of us lowly AMTers. Needless to say this is one of the most incredible opportunities possible and I am completely unprepared but trusting God all the way. I also know for sure that when God says He'll give us the nations He means it, and maybe even quicker than we think.

What a day right? But it didn't stop there. This afternoon there was a large festival held by Chief Mukuni (the land we're on is in his kingdom and was donated to Overland in 2004) about 30 minutes from the base. The festival attracted Zambians from all over the country who sang, danced, and played for each other according to their own native languages and traditions. More excitingly the Zambian president, Rupiah Banda, appeared and gave a speech at the main stage! Here the M.C., Banda, and other esteemed politicians paid homage to one man. These men, including Banda, described this man as “a true African” and a “role model for all” because of his years of dedicated service to his country. Who was this man? Well, according to Parade Magazine he is the world's #1 dictator; ahead of Kim Jong-Il, China's Hu Jintao, and even Sudan's Omar Al-Bashir. This man was none other than...Robert Gabriel Mugabe! I truly could not believed my eyes when he stepped up to the microphone; ironically enough last year around this time I had a dream that I was in Rwanda and Mugabe came to get me. Today was incident free though. He began his speech by stating twice that he, “knew nothing about Chief Mukuni,” but by the end praised the chief and declared him to be a leader among leaders in order to win the people. It was a very surreal experience to see this man in the flesh, especially knowing the pain and poverty he's needlessly caused his own country in the past.

So overall things have been great here in Africa! We are so excited for the trip to Burundi and the work God is laying before us there. Please pray for wisdom in planning the conference and for the Holy Spirit to be at work in us preparing messages to bring the children. Because of its political history, Burundi is in a fragile state right now, and with the huge percentage of the nation that the children make up, this conference has the potential to lay a strong foundation for future work. I'll post pictures of Fightin' Bob and the conference soon, thank you all for your continued prayers!

J.J.