Tracking our Zambia trip. Best read from the bottom.

Conference and VBS

So, in last night's installment we had reached Mufilira. We got there on Tuesday evening, claimed our rooms and got settled in. We ended up having the 5 girls all sleep together in one room. Boy was that a GROSS room by the end of the week, but they all had fun. We had dinner that evening, team meeting, enjoyed the stars and went to bed.

The conference started Wed morning and we began our day camp Wed afternoon. The conference was held in the church and about 200 people attended. We mostly did the day camp outside. We used two of the orphan care classrooms for crafts. I think we had 200-300 kids the first day. We found that pretty hard to manage actually. We had my partner and I as the permanent adults and 9 kids. Greg, my partner's husband and another team member helped out alot, but were also needed in the conference at times. We did have some Zambian teens and some of the orphan care center people helping out, too, but they also came and went without any predicability. (Most of the Zambians also wanted to be in the conference). I should tell you that almost every Zambian we talked to spoke some amount of English, but we still had interpreters everywhere we went. Also, every street sign and store sign was in English.

There were many subjects taught in the conference...parenting, servanthood (Greg did that one), children's ministries, how to study the Bible, marriage, HIV/AIDS (I did the "how to talk to your kids about sex part of that) and several others. For the day camp, we started each session with everyone gathered together. We sang several songs with the orphans (and they taught us some, too), did a drama each day and gave a Bible talk. Then we sent them in groups to the various activity stations. We had frisbee, volleyball, music, parachute, jumprope/bubbles/balls, coloring, crafts and dodgeball. Each day our kids picked a station to work at and stayed there the whole time. We gave the kids about 15-20 mins at each station. They didn't know how to use a parachute, so we taught them and that was a HUGE hit. They hadn't done frisbees before, so Kyle taught them and that became pretty popular, too. They LOVE coloring and took lots of time making beautiful pictures and hated to leave when the time was up. Music was also a big hit with them. We had shakers, maracas, rhythm sticks, tambourines, etc and they had a blast with that. So, in my mind's eye I see those days as blue skies, sun shining down, kids running and playing and us all tangled up with the orphans, laughing and smiling and loving on them. It was chaotic and wonderful at the same time. The second and third day we had less kids as we limited the kids who could come to the orphans involved in the orphan care center. It made things much easier, but it was hard 'cause the village kids would line up behind the barbed wire fence and watch us. In between groups of kids, our kids would sing to the village kids or talk to them or do a little drama. It was awesome watching our kids open their hearts and souls to these African kids. In the evenings, the Zambian kids would hang around the wall and front gate and our kids would go over and chat with them. These kids gave letters and gifts to our kids constantly.

The way the Orphan Care Center is run is that the orphans go there for school and 2 meals a day and then go back to live with various families in the village. This is the way Dan has set it up-homes for the orphans without a huge burden on the people willing to help out. We got to help pass out food and hot sweet tea to the kids the second day we were there. This was a treat for them that we had arranged. It was great to be able to do that!

In Zambian culture women and children aren't considered equal to men. Especially children and I think it's worse for the orphans. Women's issues were one of the subjects for the conference and respect and good treatment of women is definitely talked about in these conferences. That was one of the reasons they wanted families to go on this trip, so the Zambians could see husbands and wives serving side by side equally. We (the day camp people) had two cool opportunities to show off children during the conference. During the session on children's ministries, we brought the kids in and had them do one of their dramas to show how children can be part of the church and ministry even at young ages. The second thing we got to do was to have the orphan kids sing for the conference. The did 2 songs including one they taught us that we love. It was a great experience for them and showed them that we value them. I think that was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me.

The HIV/AIDS/sex talk went over well. I presented with another woman from the team. She did the HIV/AIDS part. I was pretty nervous, but other than an incredibly dry mouth while I was talking I think I did ok. Sharon and I had been concerned about some of the things we were going to say. We didn't want to offend and Zambians are culturally shy about the topic of sex. We asked Dan's father, Carl, to review our info and also Israel who was the conference organizer. They basically told us to preach it, so we did. Israel has said that every conference will have an HIV/AIDS component to it because it's such a huge issue there.

Friday afternoon we had the closing ceremonies for the conference. Our group did a song for the attendees. This is a Newsboys song called He Reigns. We'd been wanting to do this song since we all decided to go to Africa. One of the lines is "It's the song of the redeemed rising from the African plain". The whole is about how everyone in every culture can worship the same God and be one in that. We used the music track and sang for them. One of the men in the group put the words on power point with background pictures from the day camp and conference. It was AWESOME and they loved it!!! Think women trilling and people joining us in singing. That was another highlight of the trip.

We were once again treated as the most honored celebrity guests. We were called up front and presented with a gift per family. This was done after 3 people got up and gave testimonies to what the conference had meant to them. Gift giving is done ceremoniously. There were 5 women holding wrapped gifts who slowly sway-danced up to the front to present the gifts. (Wrapping paper was inside out, so the shiny side, of potato chip bags). Our gifts were a carved wood bowl, 2 goblets and a sugar bowl. All wood and all carved. They also presented our church with a huge plaque depicting partnership between ALARM and Calvary. The whole thing was really emotional for us. (There were many, many emotional moments while we were there).

Well, that is it for today's installment. I keep thinking of more stuff to write so tomorrow's will be a hodge-podge of forgotten stuff. You could all also read Kyle's zanga. Here's the address for photos: Zambia.gmartin.org then click on zambia photos on the left.


August 2nd update

We are now into our third day in Zamiba and are overwhelmed at the people and children. Sunday we attended the Grace Church in Kabwe. Four congregations came together as a special celebration of our visit. Each of the churches ministered with songs and dance! Our team kids sang their Zambian Takwaba song and the little children participated with the percussion instruments. The service was 4 hours- we were amazed how quickly the time went and the emotion of the people. Matt preached on how to have courage in difficult times and Jared and Kristen F. shared stories of God's faithfulness to them. They all did a great job!

We are staying at the local hotel- Tuskers (renamed from The Elephant Hotel) and have had hot showers each day. We returned to our hotel Sunday afternoon and then were able to rest, swim in the pool, and also play volleyball with the Moyers. It was quite a game- with Tina cherrypicking her team to be the winners!! Heavy competition that will need a rematch in the next few days!!

Sunday night we went to Kennedy and Sophia's home- co-workers of Dan and Tina. They are originally from Tanzania and prepared an authentic African meal. The children started the evening with handwashing and then we had nshima (the traditional cornmeal based staple of the Zambian diet served with a cabbage based relish), beef stew, chicken, rice, and tea. It was a great time together.

Monday was a full day- we started early with a visit to the orphan care center that is almost completed here in the kabwe area. We visited the church, Bible school, and then the orphanage that has over 180 children. The children are part of local families and come to the center each morning for personal care, breakfast, and schooling. Schooling is provided free to these orphan and impoverished children- unlike the rest of Zambia where the children must pay. The children presented a drama, some Bible verses and great songs. We met many wonderful people who love the Lord.

We visited a market to buy some fabric for skirts for the women. These are great to decrease the dust and dirt on clothing as well as for general clothing. The market was filled with many smells and people- trying to sell some of their items- fish, meat, clothing, fabric, and basic items. It is a very poor area and we have been quite sobered by the poverty.

It is now Monday afternoon- and we are all divided up completing projects as a team. One group is painting at the office in Kabwe, some are fixing computers and helping solve virus problems, sorting and preparing for the kids program in Mufilira, etc. Jean F. is sketching a mural at the office that will be painted- we are excited to see it done!! Kathy K is getting all of her children's material together- we are expecting over 450 kids.

Tonight we will go as families to the homes of the Bible students to share their evening meal. We are looking forward to this time of personal interaction.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) we will leave quite early and travel to a town that is building a church and participate with them in this building. We will also dedicate land for a training center near Ndola with ALARM and then arrive in Mufilira tomorrow night. We will be in this town until Sunday afternoon. Our current plan is to do the 3 day conference and run a children's program and them attend an African wedding on Saturday.

This is a difficult email to write- as our hearts are filled with many emotions. Attempts to write the depth of our feeling are so inadequate, so we have resorted to this itinerary tiype note- knowing that you can fill in the gaps as you know so many of us. We have shared tears and laughs, joy and sorrow, and are amazed at the joy of the people we meet. It is quite humbling- pray for us that we will be able to share the love of the Lord and the joy He gives us. We are filled with many inadequacies- thanks for your prayers.....

Serving together with you-
Team Zambia-

The Families of Ford, Jacobini, Martins, Kanas, and Reed

Packing complete

Well, at least for us the packing is complete. I've never done this before and its quite a dance. Apparently British Airways is a stickler for baggage limits. We're allowed 2 bags each at 70lbs and one carry-on at 13. Each of us has sacrificed one of their bags for ministry supplies so we each get a total of 83 pounds.

Two of our bags are right at 70 lbs, Kyle & Caolinn's bags are well below. Our carry ons, however are all at 13 pounds and the sound system we are hauling is over 80 (Matt will have a fit when he hears this!)

Here are some of the ministry supplies we are carting over
- Three bags of personal efects for the Moyers (missionaries to Zambia for years)
- The sound system & stand (quite cool - A mixer/Amp/Speaker with 4 channels plus a built-in CD player, 2 wireless mics and 2 handhelds, cords and best of all, it has a large internal battery that runs 2-4 hours without charging)
- toothbrushes and toothpaste (thanks to local dentists)
- day camp supplies (arts & crafts, a parachute, frizbees, soccer balls)
- antibiotic creams
- Guitars
- 2 laptops
- Assorted technical gear

God was gracious in the provisioning of supplies and SO many people obeyed His small voice by taking care of so many little details. It's an awesome blessing to watch God's plan flesh out one step at a time.


36 hours and counting

Our team is meeting at 2pm Thursday at Calvary to depart for Zambia. That puts us less than 36 hours. Everything is in place. We have a firm schedule from Dan & co. in Zambia; the sound system is tested and packed; the materials for the conference have been e-mailed and are being printed; etc, etc.

What's left is for our friends and families to continue praying for our safe travel and effective ministry. Please take time as you read this to ask God to oversee our trip and use it to His glory.


No title specified

Getting Excited. So its Saturday night. We're in the last stages of our personal planning. I'm currently working on a message that I may be asked to deliver next Sunday in Kabwe. John and I were a bit shocked when thsat came up last week. neither of us have any experience delivering a "sermon/homily" and we're both scrambling to come up with something.
I received some excellent ideas and tips from Meredith and Jeff. They reminded me to be careful with cultural references as likely my life experiences and often not shared by the Zambian people.


Time's getting short

Its July 16th and we leave two weeks from today! It amazes me how fast the past months have flown by. Wasn't it just yesterday that Mike stopped by that Saturday morning to invite our family to join the Zambia team?

So where are we today in planning?

As I type, Priscilla is typing up her notes for the session on teaching children about sex and marriage; John is probably looking at the laptops his company donated to ALARM (three! - Now there's a God sighting!); Mike, Jean, Matt & Sharon are probably working on their lessons as well; the senior High kids (Kyle, Kristy & Kristen) are at Harvey Cedars; the junior high kids leave Sunday and Monday for their camps.

Tomorrow night we're meeting to review our status, talk about packing and finalize as much as we can.

More later


Meredith's Africa Trip

Calvary's Senior Pastor, Meredith Wheeler, recently traveled to Rwanda to provide training and consultation with the ALARM leadership. He sent back this update on 6/1/04.
There is great joy in working with these leaders . . . Celestin has assembled one of the most impressive teams I have encountered anywhere. All of his country directors have at least a master's degree; much pastoral experience; leadership gifts, great creativity and amazing sacrifice. They and the senior staff (there are 22 I am meeting with) go to such incredible sacrifice for the cause of Christ. Amidst the joy and challenge of serving this group, I would say that I can't stop crying . . . even now as I write this. . . stories from this group of persecution, famine, beatings, torture, slavery, murder of their family members, living in a country constantly in civil war, death threats, walking 90 miles in 120 degree heat to minister to pastors . . . (and other things I can't mention in this email) that is just from their lives (the group that is here) and then there are the stories from the churches and people they are ministering to: horrible brutality, attacks, killing of all the men and boys in entire villages and the list can go on. The women's director of Uganda, shared yesterday with such a huge burden for the women of northern Uganda where the rebels are killing men and boys, even women with babies strapped on their backs . . . and those babies found days after their mothers have died, sucking their mother's blood. She kept weeping saying, "What can I as one person do? What can I do" . . . she was almost inconsolable.

And there are other amazing stories of modern day Apostle Pauls, men who go on missionary journeys sharing the news of Christ and planting small churches then circulating back through discipling and developing pastors and leaders. ALARM is committed to holistic ministry: not simply training pastors but also helping widows, orphans and communities with micro-enterprise development. Many of the widows have their own children and then take in orphans . . . the average is 6 children but many of them have 10-15 by the time they take in other children. ALARM is doing some great projects--aimed to help women stop having to use prostitution to support themselves. All this to say, I have never seen anything like this. Listening to the BBC news here and talking with these people, I have realized how insulated we have been from Africa and the constant horrible hardships due to internal struggles. I really believe that we must consider considerable investment in Africa.

Special Visitors

On March 25th, we were blessed to spend time with two men who brought this trip into focus for us.

Rev. Celestin Musekura, founder and President of ALARM (the African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministry) and Rev. Faustin Ntamushobora, ALARM's Regional Director for Africa spent Saturday evening building relationships with us and our children.

The evening started with dinner and what a treat. Sharon recommended that Celestin and Faustin sit at the table with all the children. They proceeded to talk with the 9 children for more than an hour. It was inspiring to see these two men, important in their ministries and likely eager to help us plan our trip, take the time to make our children the center of their attention.

Celestin later relayed to us that they kids have their ideas and plans for Zambia and that we should be careful not to interfere with their ministry!

The balance of the evening was spent discussing how to best approach the pastor's conference and other general planning. Faustin's story about surviving the Rwandan genocide is enthralling and miraculous.


April Progress

Wow! This seems to be happening fast. Its late April - 90 days from departure and we have our flights purchased (See Flt Schedule), our passports ready and a pretty firm Itinerary.

We met as a team last Sunday and accomplished a lot. Sharon is doing a great job of keeping us on track and making sure we get through everything.

Our next steps are working on support letters and personal testimonies, planning immunizations and begin to firm up the ministry plans. Jean is in contact with Israel from ALARM to decide on topics for the conference; Matt has talked with Dan from Grace ministries about Sunday schedules and to firm up our work with Grace.

More later


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