In Romans 1:11-12, Paul, says to the church in Rome that, “…I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you – that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”
When people come and visit us, they usually remark on what a challenge it must be to host people for a couple of weeks at a time and they appreciate that we are willing to host them. Yes, hosting has become more challenging with two little kids, but just as Paul talks about in Romans 1:11-12, we are so encouraged by our time with people that come to visit us and stay with us!
Over the last three months, we have had the joy of hosting Wade and Annette Hetrick, from my home church in Appleton, WI (Wade is the pastor there), for a week in Zambia and then a week in Cape Town, South Africa; Kristin’s parents, Terry and Connie Carlson from Burnsville, MN, for a few weeks; and then last week, Nelson and Linda Reed from the Seattle, WA area. Nelson was ACTION’s International Director for nine years up until this last March and is still our Africa Regional Coordinator for ACTION. All of these three couples have encouraged us so much and have been a huge help with the boys! Charlie and Sam have loved every minute of play time with their Meme and Gpa, Nana and Papa, and “Grandma-Auntie” and “Grandpa-Uncle” (those were the names that Charlie came up with for them).
All three of these couples were also a help and encouragement to ACTION Zambia (AZ) as well and those we minister to here. Wade and Annette did a one-day marriage seminar for AZ’s Pastoral Leadership Development department. Terry and Connie gave the graduation address to two of the graduating CROSS classes and also did some medical home visits through Faith Tabernacle Church in George compound. Nelson and Linda greatly encouraged us all here on the field and gave us all some soul care!
We are thankful for our recent visitors and for making the trek all the way here to encourage us and minister to us, as well as others! We hope that we were an encouragement to all of them as well.
Life in Zambia. There are many adjectives that describe our life here. Adventurous. Crazy. Exhausting. Unique. Fulfilling. Amazing. Frustrating. But the one that describes us the most is needy.
During our first week back, Derek and I were reminded that we found ourselves praying so much more than we did during our time in the States. There is a lot about life here that feels precarious. We feel our helplessness and weakness so much, even in simple things.
I remember sitting in the kitchen, which is on one end of our house, and hearing Sam cry in his bed, which is on the opposite end of the house. My feet were throbbing, as I was still adjusting to walking on our tile floors. The rest of my body was exhausted from the heat, humidity, and jet lag. But whether my feet hurt or my body felt hot and tired, Sam was still hungry. And I found myself instinctively crying out to God for strength to walk across the house and care for Sam.
Derek said that he continually finds himself praying for help to drive and navigate the roads, which are dotted with potholes and pedestrians and all sorts of vehicle situations (slow-moving cars, having to slam on the brakes for cars pulling out onto the road too late, vehicles broken down in the middle of the road, cars with no brake lights, the occasional dangerously fast and reckless vehicles, etc – if you are sensing that driving here feels like being in a video game, you’re absolutely “spot on!”). Driving is a life-endangering experience here, and “praying without ceasing” is an appropriate and instinctive response.
I think God likes it more when we are in Zambia than in the States, because we feel our neediness for Him more here. We call out to God more for help here. We feel desperate and unable to bring about the kind of change we desire. Our joy, our souls, our children’s souls, the eternal happiness of Zambians, our team, and so many more things hang in the balance. So, we pray. And we are so incredibly thankful for your prayers as well, which sustain us to continue on here.
To say that having the folks from Bethlehem Baptist Church (our home and sending church) short-term team here is and has been a blessing, would be an understatement. We have loved having them here and have been SO blessed and encouraged by each of them!!
Their trip is almost done, and they will be flying out tomorrow night. But I wanted to give you an update on the first part of their trip, which consisted of six days of training in basic hospice techniques for six different churches that have gone through the CROSS Project curriculum over the last two years.
81 former CROSS Project students learned about:
- Hand washing and Sanitation: how to properly dispose of wastes
- Wound care: very basic without access to any fancy dressings
- Giving a bed-bath and making an occupied bed
- Positioning someone in bed and safe transfers/walking
- Nutrition and hydration: before someone is actively dying
- Pain management, shortness of breath, and dying process
Based on some of the comments that we heard from many of the students, they found the information to be very applicable to their lives and living situations. Many people in Lusaka’s poor communities as well as outside in the rural areas have to care for the sick and dying due to lack of good health care facilities. But many of them have don’t have the skills and have never been taught how to do this in the most safe, healthy, and helpful way.
These were some of the comments I heard: “We thought we were helping people, but we were only hurting them and ourselves in how we were taking care of them.” “My boss died of a bed sore, because we didn’t move him for over two weeks after he was injured on the job – we didn’t know we were suppose to reposition him.” One lady commented at the hand washing and sanitation station about the difficult situation she and her family are in – “We are seven families against one pit latrine where I live.”
Please pray that God would plant and help people remember what they have learned from these workshops and that God would be glorified as these 81 former students seek to help people physically, share the gospel, and share this important information with others!
Bethlehem has also been blogging about their trip – you can find it here!
Below are some pictures of BBC in action.
Backstage crew. Support staff. Fans and spectators. Cheerleaders. Whatever term you want to use, we want to send a big shout out to all of the people who keep us going here. There are people who pray, people who give, people who email, people who text, and people who we don’t even know who do these things.
We might be getting the recognition for doing the “real” work on the ground in Zambia, but there are lots of people who do things that make it all possible for us to be here.
As we get closer to the end of this term, we have felt moments of fatigue and weariness with life and ministry and have felt just plain old ready for a break. Like being on mile 24 in a marathon (not that we would actually know anything about that!), our muscles are tired, and our spirits are searching for a glimpse of the finish line.
This morning, we awoke to an email from ACTION Headquarters that reminded us about all the people who give sacrificially to enable us be here. By God’s grace, people believe that what we are doing in Zambia is worthwhile. Amazing!
As I rolled out of bed (and I literally did roll, with how big this baby belly is getting!), I felt like I had rounded a bend in the road of this marathon, and all of the sudden, I could almost hear people cheering us on:
We believe in what you’re doing!
Keep on going!
Don’t give up!
The weariness and fatigue melted away in a moment. I felt renewed energy and passion for what God has called us to. And I praised God for all of you standing on the sidelines cheering us on. Seriously, we are just a part of what God is doing in Zambia – all of you are a huge part in making this happen. And today, we want to say a big THANK YOU to the many people who have our backs as we finish this term!!! We could not do this without you.
Below is an email prayer request that I sent out today to some of our prayer supporters, family, and friends. I also wanted to share it on here as well for your prayers, and also as a window into some of what goes on here in Zambia – some of which can be very dangerous and end very tragically. The picture below was not from the event today, but a picture that I took back in January of 2013 as I was waiting in my car to pick someone up.
You may not want to read the telling of the story, because it was a very disturbing event to witness. And if not, please just pray for the family of the man who was killed.
We would really appreciate your prayers for the following situation that just unfolded in our backyard some 40 minutes ago. The power company here was installing a new power line pole to add support to the power lines directly behind our house and from where our power comes from. All morning, I was expecting our power to go off since they were attaching live wires into the new pole. But it never was turned off.
When Kristin looked outside after we had put Charlie down for a nap, she called for me to come. One of the power company workers was hanging from his feet upside down by his waist harness which was attached to the pole, and he was literally white as a ghost. It looks like what happened was the extension ladder that he was standing on was extended beyond where it was suppose to be and buckled. He probably instinctively reached out for anything he could to secure himself and grabbed the live wire and was electrocuted. To add to the horror of this scene, the waste harness grabbed a hold of his clothes and stripped him completely naked as he fell backward, and it took an unbelievably long amount of time for the other crew members to get up on the pole and get him down. Meanwhile, there is a naked dead man hanging upside down from the top of a power line pole in the middle of our neighborhood in full few of the tons of kids that live around here, which we could all hear talking around our back fence as this unfolded.
About 45 min ago, most of the crew sped off to the hospital with the man who had been electrocuted. The rest remain near our back fence and appear to be arguing back and forth. Please pray for this man’s family and friends, and pray that this would be a wakeup call to the power company to use proper equipment. It appears this was a very unnecessary death if the power would have just been turned off and better equipment used!
Charlie was down for a nap and didn’t see this all take place. But he was playing in the backyard most of the morning and did notice the same man working at the top of the pole.