Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Back on American soil...

After 10 days, 3 conferences, over 1000 Zambians, and 44 hours of flying, we are back on American soil. It was an incredible trip, with a phenominal team, and great conversation and teaching. We had the odds working against us for sure. Our team had a wide variety of ages and experiences. We had a couple high school girls, Mark and I as young adults, a few adult couples, and a lady a bit older than that...we were embarking on a journey that was new to even the sounds like the makings of frustration and miscommunication to me...luckily, it was just the opposite!

We arrived in Lusaka (Zambia's capital) and began preparing for our first conference. It was just a one-day event, aimed at training pastors in leadership and church growth, but when we got there the next morning, we found about 50 children! This we weren't prepared for! So we recouped and sang a few songs and told a few stories, and were whisked off to a few homes of church members. We had the privilege of praying for a little girl who had been sick for 2 years. She was six, but looked like she was 4. She was so tiny, and medications weren't helping her. All we could do was lay hands on her and ask God to touch her tiny body and leave the family with some money to buy some more medicines. We then had the chance to pray for an 18-year old boy who had had a stroke a couple months back and was paralyzed down the right side of his body. It was heartbreaking and a very powerful, eye-opening time for many on the team, who had never come in direct contact with poverty and sickness before.

We spent the next three days in Choma, a smaller town about 5 hours away from Lusaka. This was a three day conference for pastors and bible school students. Church members were invited, but our aim was to train pastors and bible school students so that they could better lead their churches. We were hoping and praying for 100-200 to show up, and had heard that as many as 450 could show up, but no one really expected that many. When we got there the first day, there were around 600 people, and more kept showing up every day! By our last day, we had close to 900 people there! It was a bit overwhelming at times, but we were able to focus on the pastors and bible school students, and we felt like were able to invest in the right places.

Our last couple days were spent in Livingstone, where we did a 2-day conference at Juden and Prisca's church. Pastors from the surrounding churches were invited, and we had our ideal 100-200 people show up. By this time we were a bit tired and worn out due to full days of ministry, but the conversation was good and we got to connect in a deeper way with some of the Zambians because of the smaller size group. We also got to witness the wedding of Cindy and Keith! They got officially married the night before we left, but waited until the official ceremony on Thursday at Victoria Falls (one of the seven natural wonders of the world!) to call themselves husband and wife! It was so special to be there for that...and it was perfect for them as well. I know their hearts are with the Zambian people and that they wouldn't have had it any other way!

Over the course of ten days, we got to dive into great conversation with Zambian church leaders, learn a ton about the Zambian church, Mark got to preach three times (and he did amazing!!! I was SO proud of him!!), and have a great time with an amazing team! We know our hearts will continue to be with the Zambian church and it's leaders, but we are thankful to be back in America. I think we'll be staying put for awhile now...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Here We Go Again...

Yes, I know that my last update was about a three week hike we’d just finished, and previous to that, I was just married…so it shouldn’t surprise you much to read that as of Thursday, Mark and I will be….in Zambia. Yes…Zambia. Who would have thought? Not us! A day or two before we left on our hike, Patty Bray, a pastor at Heritage Wesleyan Church, where we work, emailed asking if we’d consider going. They’d had someone drop from the team, and she needed someone quick who was willing and able to preach…and God led her to Mark. We talked…and prayed…and talked…and prayed…and came to the conclusion it would be too much too soon. So we said “nobutifyoureallyreallyneeduswecandoit.” Ha. And that left Patty as confused as we felt. So she called, and we spent some time talking and praying with her, and ended up deciding to go. We’ll be spending our time doing three different conferences in three different locations: Livingston, Choma, and Lusaka. We’ll be teaching on leadership development, church growth and marriage, and leading some small group discussion as well. Mark will preach three times. We’re excited—for the chance to do this together and to see how God is working in Zambia—and how we can increase that momentum through our service. So Thursday at 5:30am (oooh—that means we go to the airport at 4:15am!), we leave for Zambia for 10 days. Please pray with us! I’ll be sure to post some pictures on the return end!