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Details of Zambia Mission Trip

As we disembarked after 30+ hours of planes and airports, the sounds and sights triggered the deep memory of a unique continent with warm, hospitable people. Walking down the corridor of the Nairobi airport, the same low ceilings, dingy lights, and smells of humanity prevailed. But the signs on the walls signaled a new Nairobi since we had visited four years ago. The airport was in the midst of a multi-million dollar upgrade. The area for entering the country, having visas and passports checked, had well-styled, new counters. New carpeting met our weary feet. But gone was the big sign on the wall that said “Jambo” – hello.

We soon learned that the easy going, laid-back Nairobi is moving quickly towards being a traffic-congested, industrious big city. Cell phones are commonplace. Most African countries have skipped a step of industrialization, which included land-line phones in every home, because of the lack of infrastructure. The entrepenuers have learned how to tap into the long lines of traffic backed up on the large streets. Squads of young people and men come between the packed lanes, selling everything from ground nuts (peanuts) to cell phone accessories to flashlights. Even the beggars have taken to the vehicle dense areas.

Downtown Nairobi is now jammed with people, even on a Saturday. Much construction was going on. Women with skirts joined the ranks of men mixing and pouring concrete sidewalks.

More than anything though, Americans from the far-reaching plains of the heartland are strongly aware of the vast amounts of people walking in every direction. Even with all the buses, cars, and trucks jamming the streets, huge numbers of people walk great distances every day to get to work, shop, go to school or church, conduct business or visit family. A Zambian we came to know who had been to Dallas asked her host, “Where are the people? Why is there no one walking?”

Living Well arrived in Nairobi June 1, 2006 , to partner with Africa Leadership and Reconcilation Ministry (A.L.A.R.M.). Ed, Donna, and Jacquelyn Edwards spent time in the A.L.A.R.M. regional office with staff there. Pictured are (1) ALARM office, (2) Ed and Jacquelyn, (3)Hannah Gituku with Jacquelyn and Donna, (4) Reception area with intern, Robert, and Providence Musekura, oldest daughter of founder and president of ALARM, Celestin Musekura.

(5)Rev. Faustin Ntamushobora, regional director of ALARM, briefed the team before they flew to Zambia . The mission of ALARM includes training trainers in order to multiply the resources of the mission teams. Living Well partners with ALARM to train pastors and their wives in marriage and family principles. We previously trained pastors and wives in Tanzania in 2002.

On June 4, Ed, Donna, and Jacquelyn Edwards fly to (6) Lusaka , Zambia . Israel Simbaya, country director of ALARM, and Kedrick Sikaona met the team at the airport. We wait for the arrival of the rest of the team, Mike and Donna Jestes, before driving to Ndola .

After arriving in Ndola , our host graciously invites us into his home for dinner. He introduces his wife, Beatrice, his niece, Queen, and his four children, Abigail, Enock, Nathan, and Lois.

We soon learn of the Zambian custom of kneeling to serve and to show respect to parents, husbands, chiefs, or others in authority(7). As is the custom in most African countries, someone offers water to wash your hands before eating. We were served traditional, local food including chicken, beef, rice, potatoes, and other local dishes(8 & 9).

Accomodations in Ndola were at the Mich Guest House (10). The guest house has three small houses in a compound with beautiful grounds, surrounded by a tall concrete enclosure and gated entrance.

Our first morning in Ndola was a Sunday. Ed, Donna, and Jacquelyn were taken to the Hope of Glory church (affiliated with the Church of God ). Mike and Donna Jestes were taken to a different church. Both men preached in their respective services. (11) Ed preachs with a translator although many understand English, but the translation assists the understanding.

The worship in Africa expresses a love and devotion to our Lord that we have rarely experienced here. Even though, we don't usually know the words they are singing, the worship invades our souls. The Holy Spirit binds our hearts together, regardless of the difference in our living situations and lifestyles.

Church services routinely last 3 or 4 hours. We have never been in a church that was not completely full. The people sit shoulder to shoulder on hard wooden benches. The conditions would test the faith of an American in 30 minutes or less. The churches are full but the parking lot is empty. Everyone walks or takes public transportation to church.

The people are very attentive as Ed teaches, even though the process is slowed by the necessity of a translator. (12) The young people of the praise team fervently read their Bible and take notes as Ed preaches. (13) The women's ministry team study their Bible during the sermon. These women all wore a green and white uniform and sat together.

The African churches have a lot of emphasis on honoring different groups of people and visitors. We were given chairs on the stage (14), facing the congregation, alongside the pastor and our hostess, Beatrice Simbaya.

The church's choir, in their brilliant red robes (15-18), sat to the side of the stage and sang from that position. But they also came out in front of the congregation to sing. They were very well-coordinated in their singing and their presentation. They danced as they came out and went back to their seats. At one point while they were singing, members of the congregation came up and put money on the floor next to the choir director.

At the Hope of Glory Church, we found a vibrant group of children that they called Peacemakers (19-21). They wore black and red uniforms and performed a drill much as we would see with a military service display. A children's minister directed them as they marched in formation and saluted. The minister also put several children up on a table one at a time. They were new members of the Peacemakers and were being introduced to the congregation. They each recited some Scripture or made a statement of conviction about their role. We were thankful that each of them spoke in English, so that we were able to enjoy their testimonies.

The Zambians worship with all of their hearts, voices, and bodies. Their praise and devotion to the Lord exude joy and enthusiasm. They worship with singing and dancing. They worshiped in their prayers. They would all pray out loud at the same time. They cried out from their hearts with loud words but also with tears. Without understanding all the words, we could tell they were beseeching the Lord and fighting against the enemy.

A praise team (22-24) composed of young people (the young women in pink are part of the younger women's ministry) led much of the service. A young man played an electric keyboard and another played an electric guitar. A member of the choir played a tradition drum from his position with the choir. A soloist would sometimes use a microphone but more often their voices would carry throughout the church.

The praise team sat in a group to the side of the room whenever they were not singing. But when they did stand in front, they would leave their place and come back while singing with their mouths and their bodies.

During the worship service, the youngest children sat with their mothers most of the time. However, like most 2 year olds during a 3 or 4 hour service, they get restless and walk around. One little girl (25-27) decided she wanted to get to know Jacquelyn better and walked right up to her as we sat in our place on the stage. She ended up in Jacque's lap. After sitting there for about 15 minutes, one of the Peacemakers came to get her and carried her away.

They worshiped in their giving. They gave three separate times during the service. The first offering appeared to be their regular, weekly offering. They have the church divided into 6 sections. Each section had a big, round, blue plastic bowl on a table positioned front and center. The whole congregation walked through in a single file line from where they were sitting (the families do not sit together, the women's ministry all sit together, the men sit together, etc.). Everyone could see every person pass by and put money into their respective tub. We did not see anyone pass by without giving something.

The second offering was a harvest offering that they give once a year.(28-29) The pastor and his family started by coming together as a family and literally dragging a bag of grain (probably around 50 lbs) to a the front. The pastor, his wife, and an elder then stood at the front as other families came and gave. Many of them brought sacks of grain or nuts. Some gave money. Some gave both. Some gave other things in bags. One woman brought some pots and pans. This offering is used to give to the poor during the coming months. When they were finished, the front of the church was full of bags of offerings.

The last offering was given in one bowl in the front. We learned at the end of our lunch that it was a love offering for us. We were very humbled that those, who had so little, would give out of what they had to us. We knew that we were to graciously accept any gift given. We later gave that offering to the ALARM ministry in Zambia.

After the service, we stood on the front steps of the church and shook hands with every person as they left. Very few of the people looked at us, their eyes were downcast. We later learned that their culture believes that it is better to lower your eyes when speaking to someone new. They believe that looking at a person eye-to-eye indicates a dishonesty, you are trying to cover up something.

After shaking hands with each person, Pastor Webby Siwale escorted us to his parsonage, on the same grounds as the church. The Peacemakers made two lines facing each other, between the church and the parsonage, and stood at attention, saluting as we passed between them to have lunch with the pastor and his wife. A team of women prepared the extensive choices for our pleasure and served us. The pastor's wife, a youth minister, and two women joined us for lunch. We cherish the experience of worshipping together with our brothers and sisters in Christ and breaking bread in fellowship with them.

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