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!


  1. Great to hear what's been going on. I especially liked to hear how you struggled through doing "pointless" things. “Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” (John 4:34, NASB95). God is sovereign over all things, even the "pointless" details. Keep serving Him!

    Jay Brown

    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement. I want to remember that verse, thank you for pointing it out. I will post again soon about other things that are going on.