We made it back to Minnesota and are filled with stories of God’s grace and provision. God mercifully provided almost the exact amount that we needed for both of us to travel to Zambia! Thank you so much for praying for and supporting us in that way.
Going back to this very familiar place after four years brought a variety of emotions and thoughts with it. At the end of our first day, we said to each other, “This feels like a dream.” We still could hardly believe that we were both able to go. Driving down the left side of the road, trying out a few rusty Nyanja words and greetings in conversation with some Zambians, drinking milk out of a box from the pantry shelf, smelling the burning trash mingled with diesel fumes, having lunch with some dear Zambian friends, being surrounded by an eclectic mix of traditional women carrying huge loads on their heads and the increase in westernized Zambian women wearing trendy jeans and tops – it all felt so surreal…and so wonderful (well, not the box milk or burning trash or diesel).
The next day, a series of events happened that made us think, “Oh yeah…this is what it’s like.” A few of the events that arose that day included a newly-purchased team vehicle with significant newly-found defects that could not be fixed; a new football pitch (soccer field) that was supposed to be completed but needed some more improvements, which meant more Kwacha/Dollars; and
wondering how to handle the situation of a severely, domestically abused Zambian staff woman of ACTION Zambia. Wherever we live, there will always be days where things just don’t seem to go “right.” When things don’t go right in a place like Zambia, it takes extra discernment, time, and grace, because we are not used to dealing with things in another culture or timetable. Also, many issues that are commonplace in Zambia are issues that most Americans will never have to deal with – e.g. malaria, babies dying from diarrhea, rampant domestic abuse, HIV, and incredible poverty, to name a few. Missionaries need to not only develop a biblical framework for these issues but also incorporate culturally sensitivity. This is humbling, refining, and draining,
as you can imagine.
After day two, when reality reminded us that we were not dreaming, we said for the rest of our trip, “It feels really normal to be here.” It did not take long for us to slip back into the life we had known. Language came back surprisingly well. Friendships with the ACTION Zambia team and Zambians were made or rekindled with incredible sweetness. Driving came back to Derek with ease, and he was able to put these skills to good use on our trip six hours outside of Lusaka into “the bush” and back. (His passengers even felt comfortable with him driving and got some good
laughs whenever he turned the windshield wipers on instead of the turning signal).
During this 4-day trip to Sinazongwe (“the bush”), we were able to see and help with the CROSS (Churches Ready to Overcome Silence and Stigma) curriculum being implemented to a class of 22 pastors-intraining. Since we are hoping to return to ACTION Zambia to work primarily with the CROSS project, it was a great experience to see it in action (no pun intended). We also got to spend quality time with John Chitambo and Eta Imasiku (pictured left), who comprise the CROSS team right now, and also with Michelle Widman (pictured as well), who is interning with the CROSS team for one year until Derek and I return, Lord willing. John and Eta are a privilege to know and work with, and we are excited to return and be able to work alongside these warriors and glean from them all that we can about Zambia, culture, language, HIV, etc.
Well, all in all, this trip was amazing. We loved being back in Zambia and are praying that God will continue to prepare the way for us to return in the next year. Thank you for your support – we do not take you for granted and will keep you posted in the upcoming weeks and months.
Along those lines, we will be going out to Seattle for Action International orientation the third week in September. Since the ACTION Zambia field council approved us, the next step is to go through orientation and get approved by the international office. Please pray for an encouraging, fruitful, and smooth time.