Howard & Bill have become two of the finest PB&J sandwich makers in the world.
It is impossible to know where to begin. This trip has been wonderful. First, God sovereignly ordained a wonderful team. When you know the circumstances that led each person to join this team it is nothing less than miraculous. We have had so much fun serving together. We have enjoyed one another's fellowship. We have laughed together, cried together, and worshipped the Lord together. Every team member was perfectly fit for the responsibilities they were assigned. They loved what they were doing and they loved the people they were serving, whether it be pastors, teachers or children. Most of all they love the Lord and desire to serve Him with the gifts and talents He has given them. I would gladly take this team anywhere in the world knowing that they would be ready for whatever came their way. It has been an honor to serve with them.
Watch for more pictures and a video in the days shortly after we get home. It has been next to impossible to post video or slide shows from here, but we are thankful we have been able to give you daily updates. We appreciate each of you who have checked in with us these two weeks, and thanks for your prayers, they have sustained us. Blessings to each of you. See you at home.
Day three of VBS had us "wandering in the wilderness" with Moses and the children of Israel. The focus of the lesson was God's provision of manna, clothing and water. So during the craft time we walked and camped and when we "awoke in the morning" we found our "manna" biscuits. We also talked about the fact that God provided clothing and shoes that never wore out. So we gave the children a second crocheted hat. They love those--the brighter the colors the better!!!
The picture above is of one of the grade three boys coloring in the coloring book that Amy made for them on the life of Moses.
How can you not love that precious smile! There were 105 children today, the largest number of the week. Three of the children who live in a nearby house joined in a group and when asked if they go to school they replied "no, we have no money". When I told them that they could go to school here for free, they were elated and quickly asked how they can attend Outreach Christian School.
Howard and Bill faithfully made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches again today and we joked with them that they should open up a pbj stand on a corner! But what a blessing this is to our children who may only have one small meal a day.
Tomorrow will be our last day with the children and I'm sure that there will be tears on both sides as we leave. God has been at work in all of our hearts, creating a great compassion for these precious ones. Please pray that God will draw them to Himself as we present the gospel through the gospel bracelets tomorrow. We are so thankful for the opportunity God has given us this week to be a part of their lives and to encourage the teachers. We consider it a great privilege to serve the Lord in this capacity.
And we thank the Lord for such a wonderful team that God arranged to serve together! Hardly anyone on the team knew the others prior to the trip, but God knitted our hearts together for this assignment and we have had a wonderful time together.
Again, thanks to all of you who are praying for us...... we have been blessed with good health and hardly any glitches in our schedule.
Day two with the children focused on Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and then crossing the Red Sea. So we made Moses clothes pin figures and acted out the story. As you can see in the picture, these girls were very proud of their Moses, even though they laughed at the long beards! Each of the groups rotated through the story telling time with Lynn and Linda to the coloring book time with Donna and Sothi and outside to play games with Brad and Howard Young and also to crafts with Marilyn and Amy. Then each child received half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before going home! One boy cried and cried because he did not want to go home today. The children are very loving and kind and very mannerly, thus, very easy to work with in groups. They would have stayed all day if we would have just played with them.
More than half of these children are orphans living with relatives or other families who do their best to care for them. However, they are very poor; most have clothing that either doesn't fit properly or is very well worn. But they are happy children who so want to please the adults who show love and concern for them. As you see in the picture, several were still wearing their crocheted hats (praise God for Gerrie Olsen) today. Our prayer is that they hear the gospel message this week and that the Holy Spirit draws them to the Father through faith in Jesus Christ. I long for the day when I will see them in heaven and I will hear what God did in their lives. Every day I am reminded of how much God loves them and wants them to become His sons and daughters.
This afternoon Howard, Bill and I met with Ken and Lisa Turnbull and Ray Warwick. The Turnbulls are here to begin the work of founding and beginning African Christian University which will begin in Lusaka next year. Ray is here visiting from California and teaching on the Biblical World View. The University will primarily be a seminary for pastors but will also include most of the general courses found in an American liberal arts university. Currently there are only online classes available through a seminary in South Africa.
Tomorrow we walk in the wilderness with Moses as he leads God's people and receives the manna, quail and the water. During craft time we will "walk" in the wilderness and search for manna---which will be small crackers! Throughout these stories and crafts we emphasize how God was faithful in protecting His people and providing for their needs. And that God still loves to provide for us today.
Pray for these last two days of working with the children--pray for strength and stamina for the team. Pray for opportunities for us the share the gospel and to do it with clarity and love. Pray for the children. Pray for the four teachers who work with these precious children every day.
Thanks for your support and prayers,
Monday dawned bright and beautiful but a bit chilly. We headed off for Kabanana and the first day of VBS for the children. As we drove up we could hear the kids begin to cheer. It was quite a sound. Howard began teaching them "God Is Good All The Time," and I'm sure by the end of the week they will have it down perfectly.
The kids were divided into four groups for different types of activities that included crafts, the story of Moses and outside games and sports. The older kids really enjoyed "football," soccer, while the younger children enjoyed group tag. Fun was had by all. The theme for this VBS is the Gospel in the Story of Moses. Please pray that many children will respond to the teaching and place their faith in Christ as the Lord and Savior.
After VBS we headed to Chaminuka on one of the worst roads in Zambia. But, the trip was worth it as we experienced all kinds of wild life in their natural habitat. We saw lions, hyena's, giraffe's and of course the elephants. We took at two and a half hour ride out into the bush. It was really a blessing to see the majesty and glory of God in those animals.
So, tomorrow we continue with VBS through Thursday and then on Friday we will begin the long journey home, 28 total hours. It will be good to be home but we will never forget what the Lord is doing in Zambia and all that He has done this week. It has been such an honor to be a part of His mission.
Blessings to all and thanks for you continued prayers.
We had a wonderful weekend. Saturday was our day off and most of the team went shopping at the market. It's fun, because you barter for everything, trading pens, hats and whatever for what you want to purchase. The team came back with all kinds of jewelry, and African art for decorating. Several team members are also having clothes made for them, shirts and skirts mainly. Bill and I took the day off and just hung out together preparing for Sunday's church services.
We had two services yesterday, one at Royal Family Church and in the afternoon at New Creation Christian Fellowship up in Kabanana at our new building. Both services were great. The internet is slow and it's difficult to upload as many pictures as I would like. We have been without internet for two days so tonight I will make an attempt to put some pics up from the weekend.
Today we begin four days of VBS in Kabanana. We should have about 100 children. The story of Moses is the main theme. Pray that many children will come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior.
This afternoon we are going to Chaminuka, a wild life reserve. We will see many of the animals that Africa is known for. It should be a great day.
We are just praising the Lord for all He is doing here and consider it such a privilege to be a part of it. Thank you for your prayers. We are winding down and will be heading home on Friday. It's a long trip but we will have many memories and many things to rejoice and thank the Lord for.
God Bless and thanks for checking in with us.
After 12 sessions and 30 presentations in three days, the workshops for teachers ended at 5:00 this afternoon with the presentation of certificates and Bibles. As Howard Young has said, "it was more than just a conference, it was relationship bonding and giving of not just information about our topics but more importantly it was sharing our hearts and our lives with colleagues who teach in very, very difficult situations. We were truly joined in heart and spirit." What a sweet spirit there was during these three days and we have come to love our Zambian brothers and sisters and we are burdened for these precious teachers.
Lynn's math games using playing cards and dice were a huge hit and the teachers loved the numerous games to develop addition, subtraction, and multiplication skills. And when she presented them with another set to take home, they were overjoyed!
Linda presented lesson and unit planning today and the teachers were hungry for her orderly methods. As I presented Asking Better Questions, the teachers could understand the necessity of becoming so much better at questioning skills. Brad taught rhythm activities and then had them create some activities and he was excited to experience their creativity! And after the teachers sat listening to Howard Young share how to teach the Bible, two teachers reported to the conference leader that they now understood how to put "Christian" and "Education" together. Their eyes were opened to what it means to integrate the Bible into your lessons. How important this is in a country where it is strongly encouraged to teach the Bible in the schools, particularly the government schools.
I know that you all have heard me talk about Zambia and my love for these people, but I cannot say it enough, how privileged I feel to be here serving the Lord and serving these precious people, especially the teachers. My burden for them has increased and I am so thankful for the wonderful teaching team that God brought together for this year's conference.
I am also grateful to all of you for your support and prayers. I am humbled by what God has done and thankful for the new friends we have made. Tomorrow we will have the day "off" and we will go to the market to try our hand at bartering.
We serve a mighty God!!!
After 16 teaching sessions covering some 22 hours, the Pastor's Conference ended with a celebration for all the Lord accomplished in the four days. Our goal was to answer the question, "What Is The Gospel?" The pastors who attended were such a blessing as they took notes up until the very end, soaking up all they could. They were hungry to learn and to take what they learned back to their congregations. Most of these pastors have little or no Bible training or even pastoral training. Bill helped them with a session on Bible study methods and how to outline a passage of Scripture. He also covered how to teach the various genres in the Bible. The men loved it. Bill also taught an overview of the three major Covenants of the Lord, the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic that we tied into the major emphasis on the Gospel.
Howard gave an overview of Romans 1-4, then went back to Genesis to show how it all started. Then followed the story line of the Bible to the birth of Jesus, the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension.
We were blessed by God, encouraged and anxious for another opportunity to return and work with these pastors again. It was a joy!!
The Teacher's Conference began with 35 teachers and ended with 40 for the day. Attendance is not as high as we anticipated due to the fact that the schools are all taking their national exams this week and the school administrators would not allow more teachers to be absent. We began the day with several songs (both in Njanja and English) and we all attempted each song. What a wonderful way to begin the day! The Zambians are robust singers who produce such sweet music. I just stood there imagining that we were in heaven all singing together.
Each of us (Lynn, Linda, Brad, Howard Young, and I) taught two sessions each and Amy and Donna taught the morning Bible Study on Moses and related his character to that of a teacher. And guess who stole the show--Brad! They loved his sessions on Cooperative Games--he had his groups outside making animal sounds and who knows what else---but they loved him and the games. What competition he is!
Sothi served as our videographer and we have lots of wonderful footage of us teaching, all of us singing and of course all of us eating lunch with our fingers----the custom--no silverware! We've mastered how to eat nshima with our fingers, but the rice was a challenge!
Even though we had some schedule changes during the day, it was a very rewarding and fun day. Truly my passion is teacher training and to have such a wonderful team to assist and present their well-planned and masterfully presented lessons was such a blessing.
This evening we were invited for dinner at Teddy and Beauty Kampfa's home and it was truly a feast! We even had ice cream (yes, the milk was pasteurized) for dessert--a special treat. Teddy is the African National Director of Campus Crusade and on on the staff of Campus here in Lusaka. In addition he is pastoring a church and doing pastor training several times a year with pastors out in the bush. He shared several experiences with us, including telling us of two pastors who walked 3 days through the dense bush to come to a pastors' training conference. Beauty directs a pastors' wives group in Lusaka that goes out to minister in the villages. They both have a wonderful heart for their people.
As we prayed this morning for wisdom and guidance while we were teaching, God truly revealed that He is the source of all wisdom and His faithfulness was experienced throughout the day. I can truly say that no one on the team had any fears of teaching (maybe a little nervousness, but it quickly vanished when we got started). What a blessing this has been for all of us and we've only just begun........
Please continue to pray for good health and wisdom for us. Pray that the teachers will understand our words and that they will be encouraged by our presence.
Love to all,
Monday found the team going in two separate directions as Howard & Bill headed out to the pastor's conference while the rest of team went back to Kabanana to spend time with the children. At Kabanana the team found the children in their last week of school before the August break. As you can see from this picture, the children were excited to see the team and the team was just as excited to see the children. They were also very proud of their new hats done by our friend Gerrie Olson.
They played all kinds of ball, including baseball, American football, and good old fashioned keep away. Next Monday VBS begins. We expect 200 children to participate. Please continue to pray for the kids and their families. Pray that the Gospel would be made clear and that many children would come to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
The pastor's conference got off to a good start with 25 pastors in attendance. They were very focused, soaking up everything, and taking numerous notes. We are looking forward to spending the next three days together being mutually encouraged by one another.
The floor is dirt and rocks. The septic tank is not installed. There is no plastor on the walls. Not all of the windows are installed. There is no water or electricity. But, I have never seen a more beautiful building, a testimony to the grace of God, and a symbol of hope to a church, school and community. A hope that comes from trusting that one day God would provide a plot of land and a permanent building.
Today we had church in that uncompleted building. The worship was sweet and the preaching powerful and everyone who was present at that service could sense the Spirit of God moving. God is at work in the little community of Kabanana, where families are poor and struggle to eat even one meal and day. Yet they know that God loves them and has now provided a school where their children can be educated and a church where they can worship.
We had an exciting day.
Tomorrow the pastor's conference begins and on Wednesday the teacher's training.
Thanks for your continued prayers.
After 26 hours of total travel time, we landed safely in Lusaka and with all of our luggage. Praise the Lord for that. Ethiopian Air is a good airline. Great service!!
Church tomorrow morning in the new building. We are excited to see what God in His grace has provided.
Everyone on the team traveled well and though we are a bit tired we are excited and ready to see all the Lord has for us in the next two weeks.
Thanks for your prayers.
God has put together a great team. Everyone was right on time (4am) this morning and within 30-minutes we were all checked in and every bag was within the 50 pound limit. Janie and Keith bailed us out as I left a very important ministry bag (the balls) in the garage. After dropping us off at the North Terminal they drove back to our house, picked up the bag and delivered it to us before 5am. Thank you, Janie and Keith.
We are now checked in with Ethiopian Air and will begin boarding at 11am. We will fly to Addis Ababa, 13 hours then on down Lusaka. Arrival time is tomorrow afternoon at 2:00pm.
So we are on our way. Thanks for your prayers.
We leave July 22 at 6am for Lusaka, Zambia for two weeks of ministering to teachers, pastors and children. It's been three years since we took a team to Zambia and two years since Marilyn made her last visit there.
The Lord has put together a tremendous team for this year's trip and we are looking forward to serving the Lord together in Zambia.
Please pray for the team, for safe travel, and for wonderful ministry opportunities.
Check back regularly for updates.