Mercury Rising

This week has been on the challenging side due to the heat.   This week we have seen the mid 120’s and nights are not very comfortable.  Other than that, things are really going well.  Let me tell you some of the sweet things that happened this week.  I have started teaching Tyler some things that every boy needs to know like hot to shoot a bow and arrow along with a small introduction into electrical mechanics. One of our fans died on us so I decided to teach him how to take it apart and locate the problem.  It’s one of those exercises that can’t go wrong.  After all, it’s already dead.  If you want your fan properly tested, you should send it to us.  We run them 24/7.

In the middle of the week, I thought it was time to break out the bow’s.  I picked up a Red Bear fiberglass re curve bow for me and a jr. for him.  We broke out the big block and commenced to shootin’.  He hasn’t hit the target yet but you wouldn’t know it if you asked him.  We play a game called dino hunting in the back yard right before dinner each night where we hunt velociraptors, T-Rexes and Spinosaurus.

 

On Wednesday I spent the day traveling up and back on the road speaking to various church leaders and school teachers about the upcoming Bible School dates.  I am teaching 3 of the recent graduates how to teach in an effort to begin handing over some of the teaching duties to some more local leadership and they accompanied me on this trip and were able to speak to a number of people along the trip.  It was good to sit and talk to some of the church leaders that I haven’t see in a while and hear how things are going at church.  I am also always amazed at who the Lord puts in your path. I stopped by the chiefs palace whilst out and I had to wait in his outside waiting room for a bit.  There was a women in there who worked for the chief and in the midst of small talk she asked me about Bibles. I then asked her about where she went to church and told her about the Bible school and that she was interested and wanted to know more.  I am always excited to see who the Lord uses.

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The same day we stopped into the hospital in the area to check in on some of the church members who were there for various reasons.  Yes, hospital visits can be difficult and even awkward at times but I am telling you they are so powerful.  If you have ever been in the hospital and had a visitor, then you know what I am talking about.

Chikumbi started building the new church structure this week. I am so thankful and proud of them. They started in on the building without me. I have been here and helped many a churches out and it is so disappointing when you ask them to go ahead and get started that you will be coming in a few days.  Then when you arrive nothing has been done because they are waiting for you to get them started.  Those are the same churches that will never move anywhere because they will always be waiting on you or someone else to come and do the work.  This is not the case in Chikumbi.  I am glad they asked me to be a part of the building process and am glad they didn’t wait for me to get there.  Tyler and I went on Saturday to help with the thatch roof and collected more poles for the other side of the roof.

I am still trying to figure out the best way to report all that goes on in my life.  If you have any suggestions how I might do this, I would be most appreciative.  It is difficult to share a whole week in a few paragraphs so I really want to make sure I am giving you a good and balanced update.  Please keep Chikumbi in your prayers as they continue to build this new church structure.

Some extra pix

Roadside Camping

Camping in the Boat

There are simply too many days and experiences between the last entry and this one to write about, I will simply have to jump right in and catch you up as we go along.  Last week Lesley was asked to join a medical team from the states to evaluate some clinics in Lusaka.  This required me to baby sit the kids while she went and did her thing.  The story begins Wednesday, after our time in Lusaka had come to a close.  We had loaded up the truck.  Cleaned out the room.  Loaded the boat up and payed for our stay. The boat needed some work done to it so I brought it in this trip and was now taking it back to Luangwa.

By 1130 we were on the road headed home.  We were loaded down so the trip was slow and low.  We stopped in to the fruit market in Chongwe and picked up a bag of oranges and a watermelon.  With the exception of some strong winds, the trip was rolling along smoothly.  Just before Rufunsa, about 3 hours outside of Lusaka, there was an oddly placed police check.  I knew the officers there so I started in on some small talk.  One of them said to me the trailer wheel looked off.  I jumped out to take a peek and sure enough, the hub on the axel was missing, as was all the grease and bearings.  I am not sure how the tire was still on.  Had we not stopped at this police check we would have hit the mountains just ahead and who know what would have happened.

It’s 1530 and I am placing the first call for help to Lusaka.  Another miracle that we broke down in an area with cell coverage.  The beauty of our organization is what is to come.  Our LC made some arrangements in town and soon there would be a truck on its way to help us out.  Knowing that there was at least a 3-hour wait, we decided to jump out and play at the church across the street.  They were preparing to put a new thatch roof onto one of the buildings so they had piles of grass laying around.  These piles made a great place to lay down and take a nap.  The kids played.  Other kids came running over to play.  Someone came over selling popcorn.  We were in the shade.  It was really a beautiful place to break down.  I think the only concern was we were down to one bottle of water so we had to be sparing.

Around 1630 I busted out the watermelon and some of the oranges.  Tyler and I started moving some of the items that were in the boat into the truck in anticipation of the guys getting to us.  After some phone calls and the guys having to buy some bearings I determined they would get to us around 2000.  At 1800 the sun was almost gone from the sky and we were all in the boat counting stars as they came out.  Don’t worry, I had pulled off the side of the road sufficiently.  We were not in any danger of being hit by traffic and the road was straight so cars were able to see from both directions. (I think about 25 cars passed by us the whole time we were on the side of the road, give or take about 5.)

We sat around and played all kinds of games from pirates to dinosaur hunter.  Mamma took advantage of the boat floor first and crawled into her prayer closet around 1845 while the kids were enjoying the “camping trip.”  I pulled out my iPad and we watched some videos I had. Just after 1900 I heard some noise down the road.  Mind you, we are in the middle of nowhere at this point.  There are a few huts around and a church across the street, but literally nothing in this area.  It sounded a lot like the Jesus film, so I asked Lesley if I could go investigate.  I took Tyler and off we went.  There was a Seventh-Day Adventist church down the road showing the Jesus film. How kool is that?  It was so refreshing to hear God’s word being spoken in the still of the night.  I greeted the leaders and stayed for a bit before we headed back to the truck.  Tyler and I pretended like every car that came by, all 3 of them, was a dinosaur and we were dino hunters.

At 2000 I called to see where the truck was since I hadn’t heard from them in so long.  The driver told me they were still in Lusaka trying to get fuel.  You could feel it.  It was like someone had popped the tires, let the wind out of the sails… choose your analogy.  At this point I was trying to wrestle Colton down to the floor for a nap.  Didn’t take too long.  He was tired.  Tyler and Kenley were still going and we were having so much fun on the best camping trip ever! Kenly held on until around 2045, then there were two.  Tyler and I stayed up playing a game on my iPad.  I wish you could have seen what my eyes saw.  (If I had a Sony A7 SII I could have taken some pictures for you and you could have seen.  This is not a plug for, or some sort of subliminal message to get you to purchase me one.  However, if you wish you could have seen what my eyes saw then you are free to get us one, or let us borrow one, and I will send you all the pix you can handle.)  There was no moon and no surrounding light of any kind.  You could see all the stars in the sky.  The only light around was coming from the iPad.  Tyler and I were dirty as sin from all the work on the truck with no bath but we didn’t care.  To look at my son, and see the fun and excitement he was having as he and I played that game brought me so much pride and joy.

We stayed up until around 2200 talking about how many stars there were and how God knew the names of them all.  It was such a great time of father and son.  These are times every daddy wants with their kids and I was so happy to have them with mine, even if they weren’t the circumstances I wished for.  Dads, don’t miss these opportunities just because the circumstances aren’t what you ordered. Somewhere around 2200, I lost my co-pilot and it was just me.  The night was perfect.  There was a warm breeze and very few bugs.  Around 2330 I felt myself dozing when the phone rang.  The truck was close.

In short, when they arrived, we tried to fix the wheel.  They didn’t have the exact bearings we needed but with a little ingenuity, they were able to put humpty dumpty back together again.  We sealed it back up with a special, high speed, low drag, plastic bag and tie-tie.  With zero confidence and a big smile I jumped behind the wheel for a short test run.  It was now 0115.  The truck followed me down the road to see if it worked and about 5 miles down the way I could see it smoking in the mirror.  I pulled over to check it out and sure enough it had come loose again.  This time we loaded everything up on the recovery truck.  At 0215 we parted company and they went to Lusaka and we went to Luangwa.

We arrived home at 0450 to a gorgeous tiny sliver of a new, orange, moon rising over the river by the house.  We brought in the all the essentials and got the house opened up and functional.  After a quick shower and change of clothes we were finally ready to lay down and get some rest.  It is now just after 0600 and the sun is already coming in the windows.  The good news was that the kids were able to get a lot of rest on the boat and in the car.  The bad news is that mamma and I were not so lucky and now that we wanted to rest the kids were ready to play.  However, from the mouths of babes, that was the best camping trip EVER!!!

New Bible studies

The entire time we have been living here I have been building relationships with the safari lodges, owners and employees. I always ask the employees where they go to church and if the attend regularly. Th answer has always been the same. Each person is affiliated with a certain church but none of them attend church anywhere. The first reason is that most of the safari areas are away from any local village. The main reason is the type of work in which they find employment. During the season, the clients are hunting and fishing all the time so time off is not something that is easily found. I have been racking my brain trying to come up with a solution to the problem and after several months of planning, last Sunday we saw the fruits of all that hard labor.

At 0800 I started off with 2 guys from church on our way down the river to Chawalo Safaris. After border checks and stamps in my passport we arrived just before 1000. The wind was terrible and the waves were rough. For anything else I might have turned around and decided to do it another day, but this was a long time coming and we were determined to let nothing stand in our way. We counted all the trials that day pure joy. We wer supposed to meet some of the leaders from Chankoma, but they did not make it, so at 1030 we began our Bible study with 12 workers. The manager and his wife and 2 children were in attendance as well. Since they are from South Africa and didn’t understand Nyanja we decided to divide and conquer.

I took my group to another location and for one hour we each held our bible study. We are leading them through a booklet called who is Jesus. It was so much fun to teach in English in an area where I don’t speak it. This family is very good to me and some of our friends out here. This makes our time together in the word that much more special. Typically, lodge owners aren’t so fond of God and the Bible, but the folks at Chawalo are very kind and open to the idea of a Bible study. I concluded my time as we looked at Jesus, the promised messiah as seen in the O.T. And made my way to the other group to find 29. There were 15 workers and 14 women and children.

To say that it was a big hit is an understatement. We had allowed an hour for study and they were begging for songs and longer worship. I saw a hunger that I have not seen in a long time from anyone. We have plans to move in that direction but for now we are still trying to figure out how to move forward. We are partnering with Chankoma baptist just down the river. The rains are coming and when they do I won’t be able to make it down the river for a few months and this is where the leadership from Chankoma will be able to fill in the gaps while we are kept away. So please pray firstly for the folks and workers at Chawalo that God will draw folks unto Himself. Secondly, pray for the leadership at Chankoma that they will follow through with our partnership so that this work will be sustained during the rainy season.

Long time

I apologize for not having written in so long. When you get in the habit of writing it seems easy but for some reason, once you miss a time or two it is just as easy to get out of the habit of writing. Let me take a minute to give you a quick synopsis of the last several weeks in an attempt to catch you up to speed. In late June I had the privilege to travel to Yale and study for a week at their archive library. At the end of the time there, they held a World Christianity conference that I attended. It was my first time to attend an academic conference. I have always been interested in sports, hunting, the outdoors and all things that do not require prolonged sitting while listening to someone I don’t know read an academic paper. However, the times, they are a changin’. I really enjoyed myself and learned a lot. Things I learned while at Yale: Connecticut is NOT a place I would want to live. It was beautiful! Great Campus. There is truly a difference between Ivy League schools and the rest. No sweet tea. Liberal, in school and out. Awesome libraries.

T.E.E. at Chankoma is going smoothly, however, getting my Mozambique visa keeps getting more and more difficult to acquire. I continue to persevere and it is worth it. We consistently have between 12-18 who show up for T.E.E. I have never had more than 8 show up in the past at other locations. These guys at Chankoma are unique. They are a little shy but each week they open that shell up a little more. The two guys that go with me are now starting to take on more responsibility and together we make a great team, if I say so myself. =)

Colton James is starting to make his mark on the family unit. He does more than just sleep and go through diapers. Tyler and Kenley are starting to play with him more. It is good to see them all interact and play together. He still isn’t walking yet but he is cruising around. I am ok with the no walking part. He is easier to keep up with that way. He will walk soon enough. He is starting to really pay attention to you and interact with you. His smile and laugh are intoxicating, especially when I come home from being gone all day and he crawls over to me as fast as he can, raises up on his knees and throws his arms up in the air towards me with a huge grin as if to say, “pick me up daddy!”

The radio station has had some hiccups but we are continuing to move forward. They have forgotten to air our shows at times. The station is across the river in Mozambique so we have absolutely zero control over what happens. It would be a lot easier if we had a tower on our side, but we don’t. We have had a man come to visit our church on Sunday because of the radio show. That is exciting. You always wonder, “Does what we do on this show matter?” We will never fully know this side of heaven, so it is exciting when you find out that it is being effective.

Lesley is starting to get back into the swing of the clinic again. Now that Colton is not so dependent on mommy and I can take care of him, she is able to get back into it. She hasn’t had anything major like croc attacks or buffalo goring’s to take care of or babies in the back of vehicles to deliver, which is a good thing. But just know that she is at the ready just in case those things do happen. The Lord has given her the grace to homeschool our children and does a wonderful job with Tyler. It is a wonderful thing to know that your children are being well taken care of educationally. Train up a child in the way he should go, and that is exactly what she is doing.

Summer is coming, so keep us in your prayers. Pray for our children that God will keep them safe. Pray that the Lord will bless them with great Zambian relationships and that they would grow up in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Please pray for Lesley and me as mother and father and as husband and wife. Life is difficult enough without the extra added stresses of life in the African bush. Pray that we will continue to love our children and each other in such a way that shows the love of Christ to all who see us.

Moral Victory

Usually, when I hear someone say they considered it a moral victory, I think, “So, you lost!”  It’s a smooth way of saying we lost, we didn’t win.  Sunday afternoon, the Feira HS boys basketball team won a moral victory.  I have never lost and felt like such a winner than that game.  Back up to Sunday morning.  I was getting dressed for church when 2 of the players came by the house looking for the keys to the court and the basketball.  They explained to me, in a whole lot of words that didn’t make a whole lot of sense when you put them together, there was a game today with Luangwa HS boys basketball at noon.  I told them I was busy until late afternoon and would find them on the court then.  So, after we ate lunch on Sunday, I decided to suite up and head down to the court.  I grabbed the assistant coach, who happens to be my neighbor, and we got to the court just after 1400.

 

Of course there wasn’t anyone there.  By 1430 some of the guys had shown up and one of the teaches dropped by.  They informed me that Luangwa was about to show up for a friendly b-ball game.  Since our school is brand new, like just opened up last year, the team does not have shoes or jerseys.  I hear talk of some budget money somewhere but they talk about that money like Obama talks about being tough on terrorism.  They say a lot of things that sound good and look like they are going to do something about it but in the end you walk away with nothing and end up being more confused than you were before you asked.  Luangwa showed up in trucks.  There were more than 200 students and team members there to support this little friendly match and we had a thimble full of supporters.

 

I was informed before the game that the last time Luangwa played Feira, they beat us by just over 50.  That was before my time as coach.  Due to time, I met with the coach from the other team and ref, who was from that team as well, and we decided that we would play 2 x 15 min 1/2’s with no shooting fouls or time outs.  Just a fixed running clock.  They opened the gates and proceeded to put a beat down on us.  These guys are men compared to our team.  the score was 7-2 in the blink of an eye, so I decided to work on our full court press and at least we could say we learned something out of it all.  I turned the press on and in no time it was 8-7 us!

 

The entire game, we led.  It was always no more than 3 points but still, we were winning.  With just about a min left on the clock, they went ahead by 1 point.  We had the ball on a slow break with 2 shots of basket with less than 10 secs left but could not convert.  Luangwa HS beat us.  Yes, it was a loss, but we were so excited and Luangwa was quite dejected that it so felt like a win.  We were odds on favorite to lose by 50 plus and almost sent the boys from Luangwa packing.  Tempers flared some during the game but in the end the boys did AWESOME!  Coaching for me is less about basketball and more about teaching the boys how to be young men.  Sunday afternoon, I thought they exemplified both.  Please be in prayer for the boys on the Feira HS basketball team and me as their coach that God would work in these boys lives that if they do not know Him that He would draw them unto Himself.

What is Prayer?

Our lesson for today in Chankoma was about prayer.  As usual, on Wednesdays we headed down the river to Chankoma for T.E.E.  Today was absolutely beautiful!  No clouds, less than 90 degrees and water like glass.  Par for the course is a crowded launch site with boats and fish everywhere.  I am always amazed at how nobody knows who’s bundle of fish or goods is in the way of launching the boat.  I can ask and all I get is blank stares or shoulder shrugs.  However, when you start backing your boat over their precious cargo, they come flying out of the woodwork. =) I figure it is a break down in communication.  Apparently, I wasn’t speaking their language properly.  You just need to find the proper method of communication and then apply it.

On our way down the river we ran across the lodge owner and his wife reeling in a fish.  She had been fishing from the dock of their place and landed a 50 pound catfish that was getting away so they jumped into the boat and it dragged them down the river about 1/4 mile before they subdued the beast.  The two guys I took with me hadn’t seen a fish that big before and were amazed.  With no time to chat we continued on our way and just a little further we ran into some nets that were strung across the river, so we slowed down so as to not get tangled in it.  As we passed we noticed something just under the water.  It was a dead crocodile! Naturally we had to stop and investigate and like anyone else, I wanted to cut it open and see if there was anyone inside.

Before you get disgusted, crocs kill and eat people along the river.  It seems as if it is an accepted part of life around here.  To recover a body from a croc is rare so when I saw this guy floating I thought we should check.  It is a real blessing to give a family closure who has lost a loved one in this manner.  So we sidled up to it and tried to pull it into the boat but it was just too big and heavy.  Plan B was to tow it to the shore but the rope we had couldn’t do the job.  We were beginning to run late so we abandoned the project and kept moving.

Our time in the village was beautiful.  There were 15 there for T.E.E. today.  The two guys I am teaching are now starting to take on a little more each week.  The goal is to have them teach a lesson by the end of the book.  They do such a good job.  The nyanja at Chankoma is a mix of Portuguese, Chikunda and Nyungwe and there are many words that we don’t use in Luangwa so to have them along is a blessing.  On our way home we looked for that croc but to no avail.  We decided to stop in to the fishing camp where they caught the giant catfish to see some pix and hear the story.  I told Kelvin about the croc and he said that a croc had just recently been shot because it had killed and eaten someone.  I was so bummed to hear that.  It is totally possible that we held the croc that had eaten someone.  I would love to have brought home the body for the family.  Lesson learned, check every croc!!!

Some of the things we get to do out here may seem disgusting, out of this world or just plain strange, but life out here is different.  I thank the Lord that he has gifted Lesley and me with the abilities to function for His glory out here.  Let me encourage you to take what God has given you and use it for His glory where you are.

The Pastor and His Work

I am officially teaching in Chankoma now every Wednesday. I have all the required papers I need for entry and the more I go the more I will build up the ever so important relationships needed to facilitate a smooth entry into Mozambique. This morning we loaded up the gear and got out and on the water around 0900. Our departure was smooth. Usually the harbor is congested and very difficult to navigate due to people parking their boat in the way and then there is the “loading ramp”that is littered with fish and other goods that are coming or going. It is usually difficult to find people to help you move the goods. Sometimes it is even difficult to find the owner of said goods. However, when you start backing a boat down on top of peoples things or wrapping your winch cable around huge bundles of fish, owners pop out of the woodwork. Unnecessary? Probably, but very effective.

Another beautiful day on the water. I took my iPad to grab some fotos for the blog but let me tell you how difficult it is to hold the iPad with one hand and steer the boat with the other. It didn’t> work as well as I wanted so I put it down. Here is where I put a plug in for visitors with a knack for photography who would like to come and visit Africa and help us out by going along with me in the field and doing some recording. Everyone asks me to send pix and videos but it is really difficult. I would love to have someone come over here and go along with me and do that so I could then send a really good in-depth video back of the ministry here. If this fits you and your desire, please contact me and let’s talk. It would be a great blessing to us and our ministry to let folks know what all is going on here. There it is, the invitation is out, you just have to take it.

We arrived, again down river, this morning and made our way to the village and were met by 18 folks for T.E.E. For me, that is unheard of. I have never had that many from one church. This is a really unique village. Since they are so far out and off the grid, life is much like it was 200 years ago. The people are so polite and sweet. I’m really taken back by their desire to learn. I took with me today, Mpatwa and Jacob. I taught the lesson as Jacob and Mpatwa were there as my students, so to speak. I am training them to teach T.E.E. We talked about the pastor and his work. We worked through how a pastor needs to know that he is saved. We discussed the pastor, who is he, what are the characteristics of and what does he do. Then we discussed salvation. What is it? How do you receive it?

After an hour and a half of good discipleship and fellowship, we ate lunch and parted ways. I am so very encouraged by the number of ladies that are there. They cannot read or write but they are there with a desire to learn and grow. Please pray for these ladies that they will not allow satan to use their inabilities to hinder them from continuing this study. Pray for the men as they grow that God will bless their endeavors and in turn bless the church in this village. Pray for Mpatwa and Jacob as they are trying to learn how to teach because soon enough I will begin to give them some of the rope until eventually they are teaching and I am in the back ground.

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