Tuesday, July 24, 2012


My quiet time a few mornings ago was amazing. I woke up not wanting to get out of bed and start the day. Thankfully my attitude would soon improve. When I arrived at the place where I have my quiet time which is a quiet place where the morning sun shines brightly, I was thinking about the fact that I was very cold, the cough that I still have, and the fact that my nose was running which has become a daily thing from either having a cold or the weather being cold. I had things that I could complain about but then I remembered that I was to "count it all joy." And these "trials" were hardly trials at all when I really thought about it. I decided to read Philippians. When you want to be reminded to stop living for yourself and start living for God, read Philippians. The whole book. These are just some of the incredible reminders I received as I read these four chapters of the Bible.

"To live is Christ, and to die is gain."
"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ,"
"in humility count others more significant than yourselves."
"Do all things without grumbling or questioning."
"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ,"
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
"do not be anxious about anything."
"whatever is true, whatever is honorable..... think about these things."
"for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."
"I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need."
"I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

When you read through these verses you can obviously see how God intends us to live. He desires that we see his worth. Sometimes going through trials and uncomfortable situations are what God uses to help us see more clearly. We can choose to grumble and complain or we can choose to be content in every situation, with thankfulness in our hearts. Please read Philippians, God can use it to change your life.

Count it all Joy

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6

"Lord, please teach me how to walk with you and to be abounding in thanksgiving." Sometimes my life is too easy and too comfortable. Even though my experience here does not even begin to compare to other places where life is even harder and more uncomfortable, I have experienced less comfort than I am used to. While living here in Zambia sometimes I complain to myself and I am tempted to grumble about the situation I'm in. When I compare life here and at home the things I have to be thankful for at home are obvious. But maybe that is only the first step in realizing how blessed I am. Setting aside comparisons to my life in the US, I am starting to realize how much I have to be thankful for here. Its easy to be thankful for the food choices I have at home compared to here. Its easy to be thankful for reliable water and electricity that I have in the US when compared to here. But when I look at it with a different perspective I am able to be thankful without even having to compare. Taking showers and having wet hair during the cold mornings are not my favorite...but I have running water. Three pieces of bread and a cup of tea is not my ideal breakfast...but I have food to eat. Having a cough for the past month is not my idea of fun...but God is taking care of me. I have much to be thankful for. I have a God who never fails me. I have a God who stays by my side urging me to "Count it all joy" even when things are not going my way. I have people who care for me and are looking after me. God's blessings are abundant and overflowing. "Saints who are abounding in thanksgiving"... let this be said of us.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Victoria Falls!!! :D 
Upper Zambezi

A rainbow can always be seen at the falls.
There are tons of baboons at Victoria Fall. Baboons of all ages roamed the park. They can be aggressive and they especially love to steal food from women. One of them started following me and grabbed onto the small backpack that I was wearing. I started jogging away from it and got free. I did not feel like freely handing over my passport and money. :P

Beautiful double rainbow

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Biscuit Jar!

I thought this was great. I got invited to someone's house and glanced at this jar over and over while I was helping in the kitchen. Then it clicked. It said "Biscuits!" As in, a cookie jar, except they call them biscuits. Oh Zambia... :)

In ? I Trust

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to join the outreach team that is here from South Africa during their visit to the hospital in town. We went to pray over and be an encouragement to the patients who were there. The hospital, as you can imagine, is very different from the ones we are used to in America. People do not have privacy but are placed side by side on the beds that are lined up against the wall. Some patients were sleeping on mattresses on the floor. We broke up into teams and visited the different wards going from bed to bed just talking and praying with the the people. Some looked pretty miserable and I was sad when I tried to imagine how I would feel if I were in their position. Here in the Kabwe hospital, the comfort and the resources are limited and I realized how much trust I have in our hospitals and doctors at home.

As I was driving back with the leaders of the team I was asked how the visit went. I told him it was depressing but a good experience. I mentioned how it seemed like there was little hope in the place. He asked me if it was hopeless. I replied that no it wasn't and he went on to say that in Africa they don't have as many resources and material things so one has to trust in God. This hit me really hard because it became more clear to me how much I put my trust in things. This conversation that I had began to change how I looked at certain places and situations in Zambia. It reminded me that even in the poorest places God is working and that just because some people don't have money, medicine, enough food, and comfort, does not mean that there is no hope. My hope and trust should be in God, not so much in things. God's ways are higher than our ways and he can take care of people whether they seem to live in desperate situations or in nice comfortable houses. Either way, we should be putting our trust in Him and realize that everything we have is from Him. This seems like an obvious thing to learn but it really became more real to me after the visit to the hospital and after the conversation that challenged me to consider what I was actually putting my trust in.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

Thanks Daddy for always supporting my dream to come to Africa. Thanks for always saying that I will be the safest if I am living inside of God's will even if I am in a dangerous place than if I was out of God's will and in a safe environment. This is something that has stuck in my mind and I have quoted you on this several times in response to people asking me, "what do your parents think of you coming to Africa?" I hear of people who struggle going out onto the "mission field" because their family is so against them going. I have never gotten that from you and I am very, very, thankful. Your support means so much and I usually fail to thank you. Thank you for trusting God with my life and dedicating me to Him. Thank you for praying with me and for me. Thank you for rejoicing with me and for encouraging me even though finances can look scary sometimes. I am on the journey of learning to trust Him. Thank you for being such a faithful father. You have taught me a lot and have helped me grow in my relationship with my Savior. Your reverence to Him sticks out in my mind. Keep imitating our Heavenly Father. I love you!

Happy Father's Day!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Everyday Life in Zambia

Here are some fun cultural observations and experiences that I have had...

Learning to greet many, many people, both friends and strangers. Greetings are much more valued here than in some places in the West. Even when walking out in public it is common to greet people as you pass each other. I don't think that the phrase "Don't talk to strangers" is commonly taught here. One of my favorite Bemba phrases is now "Mwashibukeni" which is "Good Morning." "Mulishani" is another common greeting which means "How are you?" Then, almost every time, the response is bwino, "fine." Also, they are not always asking how you are doing, sometimes they are but other times it is simply part of the greeting. I've said hello (in English) and the person will say that they are fine without me even asking them which shows how it can be just part of the greeting. And then I also remember being confused when I first heard someone say to me, "you are fine." Sometimes their words are switched and they do not always raise their voice when asking that question. But saying "you are fine" is the same as if I said "Are you fine/doing well?" Also, their handshakes are much cooler than ours are.

Having an abundance of awkward silences. For many Zambians its not as awkward as an American would think it is. I'm getting used to it.

Having the electricity turn off almost every evening, in the place I'm currently staying, usually for an hour or two. Even though it can interfere with cooking and the gas stoves have to be pulled out and turned on, there are certain things about the electricity being off that I am beginning to love. Some nights we have storytelling which is when one member of the team shares their life story/testimony. Just so you know, it's much better by candlelight. We have all of our meals and story times out on the porch around a picnic table and the weather in the evenings are wonderful.

Walking through the villages and hearing shouts of "Mazungu!" from the children is something that makes me smile. That is not really how you spell Mazungu but it basically means "white person." Its kinda like "Where's Waldo." The kids start shouting and pointing when they see a Mazungu. Even though most are excited and happy about seeing a white person, there are some smaller children who scream and cry because they are scared of us.


Having crowds of children watch you do things like they are watching a movie. Last week when I was in a village, me and a few others were cutting vegetables outside of a house and lots of kids just come and stand in front us and stare. This is many of many experiences of being intently watched by little children.

Trying to get used to using Kwacha, the currency in Zambia. Its a little over 5000 Kwacha per US dollar. So something like a small jar of peanut butter might cost around 16,000 Kwacha.

Washing clothes by hand.

Eating nshima and rice, nshima and rice, nshima and rice...and then actually craving them when you don't have nshima and rice. Kind of strange...

Riding on the public transport called a "mini-bus." From where I'm staying, it costs 2500 Kwacha (50 cents) to hitch a ride to town which is a couple of miles down the road. You just walk to the main road and wait for a mini-bus to come and you hop on and tell them where along the road to drop you off. Sometimes the buses are already packed but it's funny how many people they still let in. One time I sat on a friends lap because it was so full. Also, seatbelts and safety are not so much the thing here.

Going "off-roading" as one guy joked about. Sometimes, when driving a vehicle, they will swerve way over to avoid the potholes, even swerving off the road. Its fun to go zig-zagging down the street.

Riding on the left side of the road messing with my brain because it's so backward.

Trying to get used to saying "I'm going to use the toilet" instead of "I'm going to the bathroom." Very awkward.

Calling cookies "biscuits."

Being scared when someone said that they had "the flu" and hoping that I would not catch it. Later I found out that Zambians call the "flu" what we call a "cold." I was very relieved!

Realizing that I will not see rain for two and a half straight months.

Seeing hundreds of people walk or ride bicycles alongside of the the roads every day wondering how there are not more accidents. It is not uncommon for vehicles to pass pedestrians coming within inches apart from each other.

Swimming, bathing, and washing dishes in Lake Tanganyika is a very unique experience.

Getting electric shocks when touching the shower nobs is quite exciting. Last week someone even said that the water in the pot that was used for cooking was conducting electricity so I stuck my hand in, and yep, it was. And some of you know that electric shocks are not exactly my thing.

Knowing that I don't have "African eyes." Many Zambians can see and walk in the dark much easier than people from the Western world can.

Realizing that no matter how much someone might protest, cultural values, ideas, and practices are deeply ingrained in people. Going to another culture helps me see this a lot more clearly than I did before.

Congratulations to those of you who read through this whole list. :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

From Leaps to Steps

Imagine going to Africa for a summer and coming back without a huge, impressive story to tell. Something that I want to be able to say at the end of the summer is that my trip was absolutely life-changing, that God worked in incredible visible ways, that my spiritual life grew in leaps and bounds. These types of things have been on my mind recently. And they are wonderful to pray for, but I was getting to the point that I was worried and felt stressed out that something crazy-out-of-the-ordinary was not happening. Yes, I'm enjoying exploring different aspects of the culture, meeting lots of great people, and getting my feet wet in various areas but I was letting fear hinder me. My fear was that I would finish my trip and not be able to report that it totally changed my life. I feared that maybe it would be mediocre or that the trip would be less than I expected it to be.

As I was travelling to a village by boat a few days ago (I will post about that experience soon) I had a good conversation with a Zambian gentleman who challenged me to concentrate on the small things. He didn't know it but he talked through some that I had been struggling with. It was basically a mini-sermon on the boat ride. It was great. He was passionate about helping others grow in Christ. During our conversation he mentioned how people tend to want to jump to do BIG things for God. We want to go to Africa and be used in incredible ways that impress others and that make us feel accomplished! He was right. I was convicted but was also encouraged to focus on the small things and to be faithful with them. This removes some of the pressure of waiting for something huge to come along. Maybe God wants to work in ways that are not so obvious or that just take longer to realize how he is working. Yes, God is working in wonderful ways here and he is growing me in my walk with him but I cannot be obsessed with waiting for one or two incredible events to happen. I might miss out on the beauty and blessings and growth that happen in daily life. And God uses seemingly small things to change our lives such as some of the conversations I've had recently. The man I talked to used the illustration that if we try to take huge leaps we will be clumsy and off balance. If we are willing to take small steps toward what God is preparing for us then we will be steady on our feet and will learn how to humbly and passionately live for Him.

This is not supposed to be a disappointment or a downer even though that is what it feels like sometimes. It is meant to be a reminder and a challenge to seek God without being distracted when there is a lack of "fireworks" events. Praise God that he works in other ways as well! I love my faithful God. And whatever He continues to do with my time in Africa it will be rich and beautiful and I want it to honor Him with however He chooses to work. Please pray that I will learn how to faithfully walk closely to Him even if the steps seem small.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ray of Hope

I want to tell you about one of my experiences that I had last week. It was on a sunny Tuesday afternoon and I was joining the team that was in charge of the sports ministry. This ministry has organized sports teams, such as soccer, for young men. They also go out into communities and play games with children. So last week we climbed into the back of what they call "the long-bus" which is simply a pickup with a cover over the truck bed. In Zambia they are not as concerned about seat belts so we just hopped in the back and sat on the mattress that is provided for comfort. We went across town to the largest village in the area. It has a population of about 90,000. When we arrived we got out and started handing out copies of the gospel of John to people that were near. A friend and I got asked to dance by a drunk man, we declined his offered, and continued passing out Bibles as we walked on our way. A few minutes later we got to the place where we were greeted by a group of children who were eager to play games with people who cared about them. The program was very simple. We played a few games, sang songs with them, and helped them memorize a bible verse. When I was observing one of the activities, one of the leaders of the sports ministry took me aside and explained further about the community, about the lives of the children, as well as how the ministry has had a tremendous impact on the lives of these children and teens. Alcohol addiction is a serious problem for many of the fathers and some of the mothers. This leads to thousands of children living in the villages who are fatherless or who don't receive proper care from their fathers. Many of the children grow up in desperate need of guidance while their fathers are spending their time in one of the many pubs that are sprinkled all throughout the villages.
Lazarous praying with children in Makalulu during Global Day of Prayer
The men at OM who faithfully venture out into these communities seek to guide these children and desire for them to know Christ. They act as fathers to many children and teens who need love and attention that is not always received at home. I was somewhat depressed as I walked through the village and saw the poverty and thought about how many people were in need, physically and spiritually. There is so much need among the thousands of people living in just this one community. But that afternoon, as I observed the activities and learned about the lives of the children, I caught more of the passion that these men had for them. They offer a ray of hope in the midst of what sometimes seems a hopeless place. Please pray for this ministry that God would use even these few men, ministering throughout Kabwe, to introduce these children to Jesus Christ, who is the only one who can give them life.

Friday, May 25, 2012

TIA- This Is Africa

My journey begins

I was informed the other day that "This is Africa" (TIA). It was told to me by a young man who took
pride in the place and in the culture that he identified himself with. Now as I observe different aspects of African culture I tell myself that "this is Africa." It has so many unique characteristics and ways of life that I have been discovering as I live in Zambia. I arrived last week on a Sunday afternoon in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia. Before I came, a Zambian jokingly assured me that despite some stereotypes I would not be greeted by elephants at the airport. Thankfully, he was right, not that I have anything against elephants but it was nice to be warmly greeted by a few of the Operation Mobilization staff members. And over the next few days I had many "Welcome to Zambia" greetings waiting for me. I finally arrived at my destination (at least a 2 hour drive from the airport) after experiencing a Zambian market, paying with "Kwacha," and riding on the left side of the road. After having my first Zambian dinner I settled into my room which, despite another stereotype, was not a hut but a building with electricity and running water. I share a room with a few other women and being in a room full of bunk beds reminds me of my previous summers at camp. I came thinking that I would have cold showers all summer but to my pleasant surprise I was blessed with having warm showers available.

I'm in Zambia! :)

There are already so many things that I could write about and I don't know where to start. I guess I will just start with a picture of some of the things that I have been up to and then explain more of the heart of my experiences. At the Operation Mobilization base (where I am staying) part of the focus is on missionary training and they offer classes that run for at least 2 months. There is a discipleship training course and a missions course. The classes are designed for Christians who want to come and have focused time in the word and learn how to better minister to those in their home countries. Those that I share a room with are all students of one of these courses. Last week I attended some of the discipleship sessions and this week I am focusing more on getting out into the community and being involved with the outreaches. One of my favorites so far has been going and helping out with the disabled ministry. We meet on Thursday afternoons in a little building in one of the nearby villages. Disabled people from the area come and there is a time of singing songs and of teaching from the Word. After that, the men, women, and children, break off into small groups. This allows for more intimate times of devotion and discussion for the adults. The two times I have attended I have helped with the children. We play games and do crafts with them until we all meet back together and have closing anouncements and prayer. I have also been involved in visting Nikoli and Makwati schools and helping in the pre-school class here at the OM base.

Right now the student and staff at OM are meeting every night for a time of prayer. These prayer times are taking place during the ten days leading up to the Global Day of Prayer which is this Sunday the 27th. The prayer times consist of some praise and worship followed by someone leading the time of prayer, sharing scripture, enouragement, and challenges, and praying for the world. Last night was very impactful. The man who led it was talking about being servant leaders. He read from John 13 about Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Instead of literally going around the room washing each others feet (which we could have done but there were at least 25-30 people there) we had a time where we went around to each other, put our hands on each other's feet, and prayed for that person. It went on for a while and it was a blessing to see people humbling themselves, approaching each other, and praying specifically for each other.

It has also been a journey trying to figure out what an African mindset is like. It differs from mine in so many ways. People have a harder time understanding personal devotion time and I have realized how much of an individual mindset I have coming from America. I've also been amazed at how early some people here wake up and clean. Just here on the base some of the students are supposed to get up at 5 or 6 something and do their assigned chore. And then in the afternoon they clean some more. Today, against what my flesh was telling me to do, I asked if one of the ladies wanted me to help with the work she was about to do. We went back to the house where I'm staying, got brooms made of straw, and began sweeping the leaves in the grass. I was complaining (in my thoughts) and thinking that it was silly and pointless. Why, instead of spending time doing something else would she come back and sweep leaves? I realize that we have been told to keep our surroundings clean but I didn't think that sweeping leaves was important. But as I thought about being a servant and honoring the lady I was helping, I continued sweeping. I prayed for God to give me a better attitude and remembered that I had already given my day to him. I also began thinking of the American equivalent of what we were doing, which was raking the leaves. It just looks different here. I still felt kinda silly sweeping leaves but God was gracious and he is continuing to teach me things about serving him and living for him even when I didn't see the task as very important.

Some of the school children excited to have their picture taken
I will write more soon but I don't want this post to get so long that people reading will get bored or have other things to do. Thank you all for your support and prayers!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Immunizations and Visa

Praise God that I got my immunizations! Now my prayer request would be that God would work things out with my visa and that it would be ready in the next few days. :) Thanks for praying everyone!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Africa Mimi Nakupenda

Zambian Flag
So... I'm going to Africa. This is something I've been waiting for ever since I was at least 8, maybe younger. To see the details of the trip being fleshed out is strange but very exciting! :) I praise God for providing for me as I get ready to go to Zambia for 12 weeks this summer. Right now I am enrolled in a Missions class here at Bryan which is a class taken by all of The Acts Project interns. We have been reading articles, listening to sermons, gathering for class, and praying with each other as we learn what it looks like to carry the message of the Gospel across cultures. We meet in one of the professors homes so it is a very unique environment seeing as how it is a college course. We have studied some of the history and theology of missions and now we are getting into more of the study of what it looks like for us personally to live in another culture. It is so encouraging to get to meet weekly with other students who are going to experience many of the things I will get to experience this summer. Lately, I have had times where I would get overwhelmed at thinking how different the culture is going to be while I'm there. Today I read Joshua 1:7-9 which says

"Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Please pray that I will keep my eyes focused on God because he is going before me and I don't need to be afraid. He commands us over and over not to be afraid. In the first chapter of Joshua the Israelites are told 4 times to be strong and courageous! I think that means I should listen up as well. ;) 

Don't get me wrong, I am super excited about this trip! God is going to do so much! Yesterday I touched base with the team in Zambia and found out more of what it will be like living there and working for Operation Mobilization. Throughout this semester I have been meeting with a friend who went on the same trip last year and she has been teaching me about the culture and praying with me. God has generously blessed me with her encouragement and support. He has also given me more hours with my on campus jobs this semester when I probably needed it the most and he is also sending people to support me financially for my trip. So I have much to be thankful for. Praise God for carrying me through this semester! :)

Lastly, here is a song about Africa that I discovered a few years ago. The song is called "Africa" by Paul Coleman Trio. The phrase "Africa mimi nakupenda" is actually swahili I think (which is not what they speak in Zambia), but it means "Africa, I love you."