Thursday, December 31, 2009

Zambia Sweet Zambia!

Well I’m finally back in Zambia! It felt surreal at first, I almost couldn’t believe I was here again. Jonathan, a Pastor in Lusaka, picked me up from the airport and we got straight to work. We purchased some “template” clothing items for the Back to School Program, then his family and I made the 5 hour drive to Serenje. On Wednesday we used the clothes we bought to measure all the children at the Hope Center. This is the easiest way to do it, then we can order all the clothes in Lusaka (capitol city) and pick them up when they’re ready. The alternative would be to go to the local market area in Serenje and pick out the clothes with the kids individually. Standard sizes aren’t as easy to come by here as they are in America, so it’s a bit more of a challenge here. Even by doing this in Lusaka, it’s no simple Wal-Mart run.

The end goal here is to get all the kids in school with uniforms, shoes, back packs, pencils, notebooks, and so on. This was made possible because Brooksiders donated enough money to cover school fees and supplies for all the children of the Hope Center through Basic School, which is grades 1 through 7.

When I finally made it here (3 ½ days, 2 delays, and a 17 hour flight in the middle seat), it was easy to jump right back in. It felt almost as if I had never left, like maybe I was just away for a little while on vacation or in a coma. It’s been good to see some old friends, and I still have a lot more I want to visit (hopefully I’ll have some time for that). Working with Navice again feels good too. The only thing that didn’t feel natural right away was the driving (not only is it the opposite side of the road, but it can be pretty crazy). Anyways, so I’m really enjoying my time here. I hope it doesn’t end too soon!


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Going back to Zambia...eventually

Hey everyone. First of all, you might be a little confused because this blog switches back and forth between writers, but for the next two weeks or so, it'll be me (Jack Archer). I'm heading back to Zambia for a short trip, my main goal will be to get the Zambia Back to School program for orphans going. It will also be great to see everyone again. (I spent three months in Serenje, Zambia last year from December '08 to March '09, if you want you can go back on this blog and read about some of my experiences).

Anyways, so as you know, the weather has been kind of crazy in the Midwest, so I've run into a few problems. All seems to be in order now though, so I should arrive in Lusaka, Zambia Tuesday afternoon. Check back here soon and I'll keep you updated on my arrival and details with my progress in getting the orphans that Brookside is supporting back in school. Also, you can email me at for questions, comments, suggestions, etc. Thanks!

-Jack Archer

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hope Center Summary & Update

The Hope Childrens Center is up and running! Crops are being harvested, the children are being fed, and pastors are using the facility for training. Please watch this enlightening video from our partner, Cornerstone Church, to get a feel for how God's working in Serenje, Zambia.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Back to School Fund!

We're excited to update you on the Hope Center Back to School project. As you may know, many of the orphans ministered to through the HCC cannot afford to go to school. Brookside has established a fund designed to help pay for books, uniforms, fees, etc for those unable to do so. The plan is to raise $1,050 for each of the 50 children to attend school 1st-7th grade.

After only about a month, over $28,000 has been given! This is a huge answer to prayer. We're nearly 2/3 of the way there, so please pray and spread the word. Thanks for giving and caring for the children of Zambia.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Praise God for Progress

Thanks be to God for a great trip to Zambia and safe travel returning home. Besides of course missing my family, the most difficult part of the trip is the 48 hours (or so) it takes to get to and from Serenje. It's a great opportunity to practice patience.

The second half of our trip was amazing, and we saw a lot of the construction loose ends get tied up. I'm still amazed that the guys were able to oversee the buildings going up so quickly and with such quality. Progress in Zambia can be frustratingly slow, so it's quite a miracle.

The people were so thankful when we presented the new soccer goals, nets, and balls at three area schools, and they came out in droves. The Gospel was presented in each location, then we (Team Zambia/USA) played the local team.

Here's a picture of 33 of the smiling orphans in Serenje that the Hope Center is serving. Many of them have been given not just food and exposure to the Gospel, but the opportunity to go back to school through generous donations to cover their uniforms, books, etc.

Thanks to everyone who has prayed for and supported this worthy cause.

"Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me" Matt. 25:40

-written by Aaron Shaul

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Evangelism, Construction, and Soccer

Greetings from Aaron Shaul in Serenje! Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers as our group has been here about a week. I've joined a group of 6 others from Cornerstone Church, including Pastor Jeff Dodge. Our primary purpose here was twofold: to accompany a group of pastors on a church planting trip into the rural areas and make a final push to finish up this phase of construction at the Hope Childrens Center. God has been incredibly merciful and revealed Himself in many ways.

Upon arriving on Tues June 9, we gathered up some supplies in Lusaka and traveled up to Serenje. Wednesday was spent doing some work around HCC, then on Thursday we set off on our church planting expedition. The group of Zambian pastors/church leaders and Americans were broken up into 5 groups with 5-7 Zambians and 1 or 2 Americans on each team. Each group was sent to an area with no Bible believing church in close proximity. The team I was blessed to be on was sent to a small village area called Njelele about 1 hour from Serenje. Interestingly, we had to get permission from the area chief before commencing our evangelism. After that, we broke into groups of 2-3 and walked through the bush paths to small groups of mud brick/grass roof huts and began striking up conversations. The people were very friendly and open to discussion, although sadly many had been led astray by the Jehovah Witness, New Apostolic, or Seventh Day Adventist. It was such a priviledge to work alongside Pastor Navice Kalunga (our leader here who has started hundreds of churches), and we saw a number of people trust Christ, demon posessed individuals prayed for, and the Gospel go forth in a dark place. On Sunday morning, we held a church service in the school building. About 35 people attended, and 9 more stepped forward in committment to Christ. Following the example of Paul in Acts 14, the Zamian pastors appointed leadership; we also left them 12 Bibles in the local language and gave them instruction for future meeting and follow-up. Although I was exhausted from the rigorous days and lack of sleep due to the cold at night, my spirit rejoiced at so many people trusting the Lord. Upon our return to the Hope Center, on Monday our entire group met and shared what had happened in the 5 locations. It was a joyful time of sharing and praising the Lord for what He had done.
The rest of this week will be filled with tying up loose ends on the construction of HCC. From installing sinks and toilets, to painting, installing the well pump, and putting up window curtains, I'm sure the following days will go quickly. Another cool part of our trip involves local outreach. We are installing soccer goals at 3 area schools, playing with the students, and sharing the Gospel with them. Please pray for us this week, especially in regard to speed and safety with the construction, fruit from the soccer outreach, and reliance on the Lord for strength. Thanks so much for your prayers and support! so much for your prayers and support!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Musings on Ministry

Because today's blog will likely be our last from Zambia (although one of us will probably write some closing comments after we arrive home), we will give you three different perspectives. Today's writers will be Michelle Asay, Amy Kieser, and Steve Moltumyr.

Vacation Bible School has drawn to a close. We have had the delightful opportunity to work with about fifty orphans, some of the pastors' children as well as some of the children from the village. The transformation from last fall to now was incredible. Their smiles were huge and came so very quickly. They remembered the songs that we sang in October and laughed whenever we were silly. The numbers grew from Monday to Thursday and when we attempted to share fun fruits today we had to have the kids share as our numbers exceeded eighty.

We found them waiting for us each afternoon as we traveled the road to our meeting place and we've had them following us at the end of each day. We have been aided in our venture by Pastor Navice's son, John. John will be a great teacher in the near future as he works so well with the children.

It truly is challenging to say, "Good-bye". We wonder if we will have the opportunity to see them again and how their world will have changed because of the Hope Center. We left them with Numbers 6:24-26 as that is our prayer for them as well.

Michelle Asay

I have been struggling with the words to express what I have experienced in teaching the pastors' wives this week. It has been my complete privilege to teach parts of 1 Corinthians to them. I cannot imagine a more gracious group of ladies. I believe I could stand before them and recite "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and they would be appreciative. They have been an enormous blessing to me, and they have such a deep hunger for God's Word. On the first day, we gave them Bibles in their native tongue (Bemba), and there were shouts of joy like I have never heard before. We took a tea break halfway through our time together. While we were on our break, I looked in to find every woman hunched over her new Bible, reading it! What a blessing they have been!

I also have made a new best friend in Mirriam Musonga, Pastor Navice's daughter. She has been my translator this week, but she is so much more. She is also my sister in Christ and my dear friend. She has taken what I have said and made it come alive for the women of Zambia. She has been able to expound on and apply God's Word for them in ways I could not have imagined. It is my prayer that our lives will cross again, for I have come to love her dearly. It was the pictures of the orphaned children that drew my heart to Zambia, but now Mirriam and these dear pastors' wives have captured my heart, as well.

Thank you for you partnership with us in prayer. We have felt all of those prayers.

In Him,


It's very hard to describe in a few words, or even many, an experience like we've all had these days in Serenje and the impact a time like this has on a person's life. Perhaps the best I can say is that as different as our lives are from the people we've been serving this week, there are profound similarities. The greatest similarity being our need for Jesus Christ and the love He brings into our lives. As I've taught the pastors from I Corinthians and listened to them describe their needs and the needs of the people in their churches, I have been impressed with how important the truth of God's Word is in all of our lives. We live in very different cultures, but our need for God's truth to live purposeful and joy filled lives is exactly the same.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Worship in Kamena and a few other things

Hello, blog readers, and greetings from Tim Wiebe in Zambia (and thus ends Tim talking in the third person). The trip so far has been excellent - we have seen God work in many ways in, through, and around us so far, and are excited to continue the work God has initiated over the next few days before we begin our trek back.

My role here has been primarily to help teach a group of pastors from church in and nearby the town of Serenje where we are staying. I have been teaching on the the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and my prayer is that this material on the third member of the Trinity will help inspire their worship, further their discernment, and both motivate and encourage their service for the gospel. I have been teaching for close to 2 hours each day from 11:00am-1:00pm, directly following Steve Moltumyr teaching on 1 Corinthians. The pastors have been gracious and seem to be responding well to our content. When I was here in Sept/Oct, I was impressed at the eagerness with which these pastors received biblical teaching, and have been both challenged and impressed by the same this trip. On top of that, this second trip I have benefited from the relationship already established with many of the pastors; I truly enjoyed seeing these partners in the gospel again, and have been encouraged by their perseverance for the cause of Christ.

After teaching, each morning, I have spent at least a bit of each afternoon with the orphans and those in our group leading vacation Bible school for them. Though I have primarily observed the vacation Bible school, it has been AWESOME to see those in our group helping out more directly - God has gifted them tremendously to work with children, and it's fun to see the kids' eyes light up whenever the group arrives.

A few others from our group just accused me of writing a novel, so I'd better draw this to a close...I have attached pictures from our time in a village called Kamena - this village is where we worshipped on Sunday morning. It is always cool to hear people praising God in a different language and rightly reminds us of the picture we get of worship in heaven in the book of Revelation, where we read of people from every "tribe and tongue" worshipping our common King, Jesus.

The people here contine to bless us, and we would appreciate your continued prayers for unity as a team, partnership in the gospel with our Zambian family, and joy in ministry and being ministered to.

Monday, April 20, 2009

School in Kamena

Greetings from Serenge! Yesterday was another overwhelming day with so many wonderful experiences. We helped with another large food distribution, giving out food to about 100 children. We also had the privilage of attending two different worship services in the bush.

We visited a school in the town of Kamena. Pastor Navice introduced us to a very special man named Morgan. Morgan is the headmaster of Kamena School. He is also the man who came up with the perfect name of "The Hope Center." There are over 300 students K-7th grade! Kamena School has four teachers. Three have sacrificied a part of their salaries to pay for a fourth teacher. Children sit three to four students at a desk. They make their chalkboards by rubbing dark colored leaves on the wall. When the classrooms become hot, they hold class outside beneath a grand shade tree appropriately named "Wisdom Tree." We were able to present a suitcase of basic school supplies on behalf of Chris Ihley. Morgan said, "They will no longer say we are a poor school they will say we are rich!"
~In him, Traci Gratopp

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Greatest Need

Today began with a food distribution to 48 orphans. What a joy it was to see, in person, those children who will be using the Hope Childrens Center. It was sobering and humbling to watch the children come up, one by one to receive a large bag of maize, and a small bag of dried minnows (yes minnows). As Traci was handing out the food, the tears came without warning. That's how it happens around here...God shows us reality, and suddenly your American, ethno-centric idea of a "need" is shattered. You see the Zambians as people in need of a Savior, just like us.

In the afternoon, we went with Pastor Navice, and 3 other Zambian pastors to visit with people in a village about 3 km outside of Serenje. This was a brand new experience for a few of us. It was amazing to talk about Jesus to hurting, yet receptive people, who are living in circumstances and family situations that for most of us are unfathomable. Today, the Lord used His church to put the Word of God into the ears and hands of people who desperately need hope. This need is universal. We all need it.
It gave us great joy and hope to see the same God at work in Nebraska and Iowa, also at work here. He is present and His work is being done by faithful men and women who are obedient with their time and energy to impact the lives of the people in Serenje.
~Molly Loneman

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Trek to Serenje

It's been something of a whirlwind, but we are here safe and sound in Serenje, Zambia! We flew non-stop and overnight from Chicago to London. We were in London for a day, so we did some sight-seeing. The highlight for me was a tour of Westminster Abbey. As we were ready to leave, we came upon the burial place of David Livingstone, a British missionary to Zambia in, I believe, the 19th century. His last words were written there. He said of Africa, "All I can add in my solitude, is, may heaven and rich blessing come down on everyone, American, English, or Turk who will help heal this open sore of the world." Reading that quote was the highlight of London for me, because that is precisely, in some small way, what our group is trying to do.

We then flew non-stop and overnight from London to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, arriving around 6:30 AM Zambian time. After some shopping in Lusaka, we headed out on our overland trek to Serenje in a van loaded with seven people, 14 bags of checked luggage, and various pieces of carry-on luggage! Six hours later, we arrived - tired but so grateful to God to be here at last.

Yesterday, which was Friday, we toured the Hope Center - the orphan care center that Brookside is building in partnership with Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. We had seen pictures, but nothing could prepare us for the overwhelming experience of seeing the nearly completed campus. There is an all-purpose building, a bathhouse, a storage shed, and a guest house. There is a large area dedicated to farming a number of different plants: corn, watermelon, peanuts, sweet potatoes, and more. Eventually these plants will feed the orphans and there may even be enough to sell locally. We met Pastor Novice, whose vision began this whole endeavor, and it was truly a privilege to meet a man so humble and fully devoted to the cause of Christ.

In the afternoon, we visited a nearby waterfall called Kundalilla Falls...a beautiful sight. Some hiked farther than others. (O.k., I didn't make it all the way down the canyon!) But we all greatly enjoyed the trip.
This morning we participated in a food distribution for about 50 orphans. Each child was given a 25 kilo bag of "mealy meal" (ground corn) and a plastic shopping bag of dried minnows. It was an emotional experience watching these precious children be so grateful for so little. The girls curtsied, and they were all smiling and laughing.
We met the twenty or so children that our church has sent back to school. I may have mentioned this before, but it costs about $100 a year for tuition, books and uniforms to send a child to school for a year. We also learned that there are still ten more orphans whose school year has not been funded. It is my prayer that they, too, will be able to go to school very soon.
This afternoon we are going to do some door-to-door evangelism, which will stretch all of us, I think, but we are looking forward to it. And tonight we will have the treat of eating at the house of Pastor Novice and his wife Ketty.
Would you please pray for us? Pray that we would continue to be healthy and sleep well, as we adjust to the time and altitude difference. Pray that our work here would be fruitful and that God would be glorified in all we do. Thank you.
Hopefully tomorrow, Molly Loneman will update the blog with pictures of our work (and play) here so far.
God Bless you,
Amy Kieser

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Zambia Here We Come!

We leave tomorrow, and the question I hear the most is, "Are you ready?" And I keep thinking, "Is anyone ever ready to jump completely out of her comfort zone and into Africa?" But ready or we come!

You may be wondering who the "we" are. A new group from Brookside Church is heading to Zambia on Monday, April 13th. "We" are Pastor Steve Moltumyr, Pastor Tim Wiebe, Pastor John Alford, Michelle Asay, Molly Loneman, Tracy Gratopp, and Amy Kieser (that last one is me :)

We're going to Serenje, Zambia with several purposes in mind. The pastors will be conducting pastoral training for local Zambian pastors. The women will be leading a VBS program for about 50 orphans, and I will have the privilege of teaching a group of pastors' wives. All of this will take place at the Hope Center, a facility we are building in partnership with Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa.

Will you be partners with us in prayer? Please pray for our travel, our ministry time, for the children, the pastors and their wives. Please pray that God would use us to minister to them and more importantly to bring glory and honor to His Name.

I grew up in an Air Force family and whenever we would be uprooted from one place to fly off to another (often on short notice), my mother would attempt to bolster our spirits by saying, "We're off on another one of life's great adventures!" It became a family motto...mostly because it's really hard to get four little girls to be happy about moving to places like Korea and New Jersey! But as I think of it, it's a really good motto for our trip. We are off on another one of life's great adventures. And, by God's grace, I think I might just be ready!

Amy Kieser

P.S. The next post will probably not be written until Thursday, as we will be in "travel mode" until then.

P.P.S. Earlier posts on this blogspot were written by Jack Archer during his three month stay in Serenje.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Back in America

Well here I am, back in one of the United States. I've been back for a few days now, and I'm still adjusting. I tried to prepare myself for the shock of being back in America, but there was only so much I could do. I'm still feeling a little overwhelmed, and I'm missing Serenje. It's weird to think that I was just on the other side of the planet a few days ago. Yesterday I shared with the Brookside congregation about my experiences from the last 3 months, but it was a little difficult to communicate everything from the last few months in just a few minutes. It was also hard to put some things into words.
I have to apologize for not posting on the day I flew out, even though I said I would. I was planning on doing one more post but I ran out of my Internet card at the airport. Things have been going so fast since I got back too, I can't believe it's almost been a week already.
I want to thank everyone for all the support I had. So many of you kept up with the blog, stayed in contact with me, encouraged me, prayed for me, gave financially...I'm blessed to have so much support. I mean it sincerely when I say thank you...if you're reading this then it applies to you.

Above is the District Commissioner and I at the site just a few days before I left, below is some of the orphans (could they be any cuter?). I've put some new photos on the Flickr website (click the link at the top right of this page). Also, I promise I'm not annoyed at all by questions, I want to share this with as many people as I can. So feel free to flood me with questions, my email is and my phone number is 402-210-1204.

I can't say enough how much I feel like God is all over this project, both in America and Zambia. I'm excited to see what develops in the future, and I personally feel energized and ready to see what God has for me next. Yesterday I commented on how desperately this world needs Christ...and how they need love. I want to be sold out for that cause.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Leaving Serenje...

Well, I won't lie, it was hard driving away from Serenje for the last time (for now). I'm in Lusaka, getting ready to fly back to America tomorrow. My last week was everything I was hoping for, and as I'm starting to reflect on the entire truly was amazing. The best part is that God continued to show up, reveal Himself, and do amazing things...right down to my last day. I can say with ease that I'm leaving Africa knowing all the more how real God is. I don't know how to put it into words exactly, but God is so real and so alive...and so good.

I got to hang out with the orphans one last time on Saturday, they aren't any less cute than when I got here. I think this last time was the most fun we've had together. There was a lot of laughing, which can never be a bad thing. I literally was swarmed by them...we played this game where they all jump on me and pull my arms and legs, trying to make me fall over. I seriously wanted to steal them all and bring them home with me. I hope that I was able to show them God, and to show them love.

Construction is still moving along nicely. I keep thinking about how different it is than when I got there. The roof is being put on the last building and we're getting closer to the finish line. Now the main tasks are to finish plastering, to paint, and to do electrical and plumbing work. I hope I was of good help in doing the construction.

I did the Bible Study with the workers every day for my last week (I usually only shared twice a week). I also visited some at their homes, which was a very big deal to them. I also spent a lot of time with Sunday my last 2 weeks here. We hung out almost every day...that was a hard goodbye. I hope I was able to impact his life and the lives of the other workers.
I also got to preach in Church one last time yesterday. I've come to know more people in Serenje than I ever thought I would. At this point I never crossed town with out greeting several different friends. In my time here I was able to share the Gospel with literally hundreds of people directly and indirectly, I hope it made it into their hearts.

I also felt that I accomplished all the other objectives I had here, and I hope I did good work for Cornerstone and Brookside churches. But more than all of this, I truly experienced God. I'm so thankful for this experience and everything He's done in my life. I'm just in awe of how phenomenal He is. I love Him and I want everyone to know Him...I don't know what else to say.

Please check back, I'll be posting one more time before I fly out tomorrow.

Monday, March 9, 2009

1 more week..

Last week went really well. I was able to accomplish a lot, and now I'm feeling good about how things will finish up here for me. I was able to meet with the Deputy Headmaster (like a principle) of one of the main schools in town to discuss the possibility of putting orphans in school. I think it went really well, we'll have to see how it plays out in the coming months.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to teach at a church with well over 300 people in attendance out in Kamena, a village nearly 2 hours away in the bush. That was an amazing opportunity! We know of about 100 orphans in the Kamena area. During our time there we filled in Child Profiles that Navice and I made for each child, and we also got a picture of each one to go along with the profile. I felt good about it because it's a major step in the right direction to make sure we can keep track and no one falls through the cracks.
I reminded our construction workers this morning that I'm leaving in about a week...I'll miss them a lot, and I could tell they'll miss me too. I've also been trying to hang out with my good friend Sunday almost every day since I'm leaving soon. He keeps telling me how I can't leave and he's going to steal me and keep me here. He tells me every day that the time is going too fast and he'll miss me when I leave. I feel the same, we've become very good'll be hard to leave. Navice keeps telling me I need to stay longer too, I told Him that my mom doesn't like that idea.
So this is my last week in Serenje. As I've said so many times recently, I can't believe it's time to go back already. This may seem weird, but I've decided that I won't be using internet the rest of this week. So I'm cutting off my contact through the blog and email with your side of the planet. Feel free to continue emailing me, but I won't be reading and replying until I'm in Lusaka getting ready to come back to Omaha. God made it very clear to me that I need to do this...I want to focus on Him and my time left here. Thank you everyone for all your prayers and all of your support. For those who have been asking, I'm due to arrive in Omaha on Wednesday, March 18th at 12:49 PM.

PRAYER REQUESTS: That I would use my time wisely and finish strong...I'm sharing every morning this week for our Bible Study (we usually just do two mornings a week), pray for me to follow God's will on what to teach...I'm spending significant chunks of time alone with God in prayer and in Scripture, pray for me to focus in that as well...for all my friends that I'll be saying goodbye to for now...the picture above is an orphan named Zita (Zee-tuh), you can pray for her in any area you can think of, she needs it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Kids Just Wanna Have Fun…

On Saturday I played football (what we call soccer) with about 30 of the orphans in Serenje. It was a lot of fun to see them having a good time. I was just emailing a friend earlier, and I mentioned how great it was to see them being able to forget for a little bit about the worries thay have that children shouldn’t have to be consumed with. For a while, they could just have a good time and be kids. My main goals were for them to have fun, for me to make them laugh, and for them to just simply feel loved. I was also going to share a story from the Bible, but we got cut off by the incoming rain, so many of them wanted to leave to make sure they could get home in time. I’ll share the story next time when we get together though. It was a great morning, and every time I see them I get more and more excited for the Hope Center to be opened. Being over here this long has made it clear to me that the Hope Center should make a big difference in many lives. I can’t wait!
My brother Graham made a good suggestion for the blog, so I now introduce to you…
Jack’s Top Ten Favorite things about Serenje, Zambia…
10) The Rainy Season. A lot of sun and a lot of rain…to me, it’s a perfect balance.
9) The landscape…amazing views…enough said.
8) There’s a Chess Club, I bet you didn’t expect that! And yes, of course I played.
7) The extremely bumpy dirt roads that my Hyundai Elantra would never be able to pass…driving in America will always seem dull.
6) The market…you never know just what you’re going to find.
5) Learning Bemba…Kulumbanya Lesa Yesu Kristu mulubushi wandi!
5b) Listening to the Zambians praise and worship God in their own music and language.
4) Navice and his heart for wanting to help people and follow God.
3) All my friends here…especially my good friend Sunday.
2) The kids…what’s the word for too much cuteness?
1) God’s presence…He’s just as active here as He is anywhere…and He’s amazing!
PRAYER REQUESTS: I just can’t seem to stop that clock from ticking, pray that I will be focused and intentional as my time here winds down…this week I’ll be doing a lot of meeting with school officials and exploring the way the system works here, pray that I would be able to work well with the school’s leaders and make progress, and that I understand what it will take to hopefully get some of the orphans into school soon…pray for my family, cause I love them and can’t wait to see them again and share with them. Thanks.
Special Note to Tribe: Hey guys! So I was trying to fall asleep last night, and I felt like a little kid on Christmas Eve…I was too excited about being back at Tribe and seeing you all again. I’m jealous that I’ve missed so much of what’s been going on in Tribe for 2009. I promise I’ll share all of my experiences from over here if you share your experiences from over there with me. Deal? The only problem is that I’ve been trying so hard to learn Bemba that I might forget how to use English. I think my grammar and writing skills are already fading…anyways, me miss you lots, see you fast. Love you guys!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How's Dr. Jack sound?

I'm sure I mentioned this before, but it was so encouraging to see Brian, Abbie, and Karin use their medical skills to help the sick and hurting over here. I was able to shadow them in the hospital a little, and I even helped with a few things. It made me want to go to medical school so I could have another way to help people. They headed back to America today, but I feel like their impact will be echoing in the hospital for a long time. They were able to share their knowledge, as well as learn from the Zambians too (it certainly goes both ways). Not only did they provide medical help, but beyond that they were able to show compassion and love to the patients too.
I think the hardest part for them was the death they encountered. Especially the children. It's hard to watch a child die. It's hard to go long without being reminded of the death and desperation around here. I was reminded of it regularly as I visited the orphans at their homes over the past several days. But I wasn't discouraged by it, because it made the Hope Center that we're building seem so much more meaningful, a direct answer to one of the many problems around here. I'm so thankful for Brookside and Cornerstone deciding to act on a solution.
Two nights ago the District Commissioner had us all over for dinner. Comparatively, he's similar to a Mayor or a Governor, or somewhere in between. At the end of the night he was thanking us before we left, and he said, "because of you I have seen what is possible, I have seen hope." Hope has taken on a whole new meaning to me over here. I've seen people here who really need hope, and I've been seeing God inspiring hope in Serenje, and I know it will only grow from here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More Photos!

I've recently added some more photos to my Flickr site, so you can check those out by clicking on the link at the top right hand corner of this page, and I'll be adding some more again soon. The photo below is from the food distribution I did awhile back.
For those of you that didn't know, I was able to talk to the Brookside congregation over the phone during their Sunday morning services, so that was really cool. I could hear you guys worshipping just before I was on to talk, and it made me miss Brookside. But, I’m certainly not saying I’m ready to leave Zambia. Actually, I’m worried about how soon my time will be up here! I do miss my friends and family back home though, but I feel like I’ll always be torn…no matter where I am I’ll miss my friends on the other side of the planet.
Anyways, so my prayer request is that I’ll use my time to it’s fullest potential, that I make the most impact I can in what little time I have left, and that I would fully let God lead me in these last few weeks. Thanks!
P.S. Questions? If you have any questions about anything and everything, email them to me at That way, I can get an answer before I leave to things that I never would have thought of to ask. So email your questions about construction, orphans, churches, government, culture, life, or whatever’s on your mind.

Monday, February 16, 2009

One month to go...

Well I'm 2/3 of the way till I come back home...but in school even if you do the first 66 percent perfect and don't do the rest, you fail. So I hope to work hard and get a lot done this last month. I've seen amazing fruit in these two months, but I know God has a lot planned for this month. I got plenty of rest this weekend, more than any previous weekends here, so I'm recharged and ready to go.
This week Navice and I will be visiting the homes of the orphans we have registered within Serenje. There are others in the surrounding areas of Teta and Kamena, but for now we're just visiting here in town. One purpose is to survey their living situation. All orphans are living with a caretaker who may or may not be in a good position to watch over them. We want to make sure that each child is safe and being provided with basic needs. We are also gathering information on their education: are they in school, what grade are they in, or should they be in, do they need supplies, etc. Chris Ihle from Brookside has put together a plan to hopefully put all the orphans into school, so I hope to make some progress to get the ball rolling with that program in my last month.
Also, as many of you know, Dr. Brian Finley from Brookside has come for a couple weeks with another doctor and nurse (Abbie and Karin). They've only been here a short time, but they are already making an impact. I took Brian to a few of our workers' houses to check them out. One was Clint and his wife (they are the ones I wrote about who lost their child). We also visited a worker and his wife who just successfully had a baby. She delivered from home, which is not uncommon here, and they also let me name the baby...crazy! It was really encouraging to watch Brian, to see his gift at work. It amazed me to see him be able to understand the situation and give them answers and comfort. It also reminded me once again of our amazing privilege in America to have such a high quality of medical attention.

I've gathered our medical visitors' thoughts on the hospital here. It's severely understaffed and limited in its capabilities, but the staff is doing a great job for what they have. It's probably not what a lot of people think of...a grass hut with no medical knowledge. But it is a decently functioning hospital with intelligent staff. The unfortunate part is that they are very limited and crippled by circumstances. They've seen quite a bit of death in their short time here. I hate to share this...but one of the orphans passed away last week, cause unknown. That's hard to think about, but it's simply just the reality here, and you can't ignore reality.
Well, I can't end on such a depressing note. There are many amazing things happening here too. Abbie typed up something to share with you all, I hope you like it:

Journey to Serenje

My name is Abigail Ihrke. I am Family Practice Doctor and I am currently working with Dr. Brian Finley and Karin Ashley (a nurse) here in Serenje Zambia. Jack has graciously allowed me to tell you a bit of my story on his blog!

My journey to Serenje started many years ago. I have wanted to be a missionary ever since I was very young but it wasn’t until I was freshman in high school that I went with John Alford and Brookside Church to Tampico Mexico. I still remember very clearly my first glimpse of true poverty. I don’t even have to close my eyes to see the look on the little girls face as she looked at me through the broken walls of her house. I could feel her asking for something…for food, for clothing, for hope that her future would be better. And my heart was broken. I cried out to the Lord asking what my role would be. I wanted to give something to make the gospel a reality. I could hear her say “yes, Jesus loves you- you are a rich white American, how do I know that he loves me?” At that point in time I had no answer to her question.

Through out high school this question was forever in the back of my mind. What would my role on the mission field be? In AP biology I started to think that I could be a doctor- this would be a concrete way to show Gods love to a hurting and dying world. Through college I pursued a degree that would prepare me for medical school and traveled to different mission stations to see if I liked missionary medicine- I loved it!

Fourteen years and many long hours of study later I am a doctor and spending three short weeks in Serenje, Zambia. I am continually impressed with the beauty of the African people and the vastness of the medical and spiritual need. Serenje has a thriving body of Christ, but the church is still dyeing of malaria, HIV and anemia. It is not an easy thing to do medicine here. As much as I know that many babies will not survive and that childbirth is a dangerous thing, the reality is still heart breaking. Regardless of the emotional cost, I am blessed to serve here. I look forward to the time when I can be full time in Africa!

Thank you to Brookside for allowing me to go on a mission trip as a high school student. I have no words to express the impact that trip had on my life! Blessings to you as you continue to support Pastor Navice and his work here. If you want to hear more medical news, I am also blogging at I look forward to sharing more of my experience with you!

Blessings, Abbie

That's cool to hear...and God is doing plenty of amazing things over here too. Sorry this is such a long post and it's with no pictures, but I promise you pictures galore coming soon. Thanks for your love and support!

Monday, February 9, 2009

That's birthday's never been this warm before...

Thanks to everyone who wished me a Happy Birthday over here in Zambia! I wasn’t planning on making a big deal of it or acknowledging it…but my inbox was flooded with emails, and I even got a few phone calls. It was great to hear some familiar voices…especially yours mom. Not only that, but the guys over here celebrated it a little too, so it was great. So all in all, I had a pretty good birthday over here in Africa. The best part is that I got to turn 22 about 8 hours sooner than my twin brother, Dallas. Thanks again to everyone.
Sorry that it’s been a little while since my last post, the time flew this last week. Actually, I got a little sick too, so that slowed me down a little. But don’t worry, I’m feeling good again (really mom, don’t worry).
Some of you know that I had been hoping to start a friendship with a young man named Sunday. On one of my first few days in Serenje, Navice asked me to disciple him. My brother reminded me that I hadn’t really given any updates on our friendship since I first arrived, so here goes.
The first few weeks I didn’t have much time to get to know Sunday, but in the last month we’ve become very good friends. He’s our farm manager for the Hope Center, and he’s about a year older than I am. We meet many times a week for a Bible study time, but also just to hang out. Usually we discuss a verse that we assigned ourselves to read, then we talk about other God and faith topics. We also talk about life, and of course we’ve been getting to know each other more and more. Our friendship is really just getting better and better as the time goes on. Every time we get together we are more comfortable with each other and we have more fun. I think I’ve been able to be a great voice of truth to him and to help him with his spiritual growth too. It’s crazy how I know I’m going to miss many people I’ve come to know here when I go back to the States, just like I miss many of you now. I have a feeling Sunday and I will have a life long friendship, at least I hope so.
Other things are going well here. Construction is coming along well, we’re working very hard. I hung out with a bunch of the orphans the other day too. We played soccer, which they call football. I’ll summarize how that went…they’re amazing and I was gasping for air. It was tons of fun. I really enjoyed playing with them and loving on them…it was great. Thanks everyone for keeping up with me and for your prayers!
Prayer Requests: Navice is holding pastor training this week for about 35 pastors from the surrounding areas, pray for details to go smoothly, and that they would not only be able to learn a lot in a short amount of time, but that the outcome would go beyond knowledge and into action…I’ll be sharing with the pastors tomorrow morning too, what will I say? I guess we’ll see…the Bible Study with the workers, we do it Tuesday and Thursday mornings and we cover many topics and great friendship with Sunday…and last, my family who I miss and love…a lot!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I promised in the last post that I would have some pictures of the ongoing construction. I thought that I would also give some details of exactly what we’re building and how we’re going about it.
Cornerstone Church and Brookside Church have teamed up to build an orphanage in Serenje, Zambia on about 12 ½ Acres of land. We have hired about 40-50 Zambians to work in constructing the buildings and growing the crops that will feed orphans. Some of them travel from as far as 30 or 40 Kilometers by bicycle every day, but they couldn’t be happier to have a job. Some of them also sleep at the job site all week and then they go home for the weekend…we’ve built a small shack to store tools and where they sleep. They range from speaking great English to only speaking a few words. It’s been great to get to know the workers, and we do a brief Bible Study or short message on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
We are building four buildings on the site, three of them are being funded by the people of Brookside. The first and biggest building is the Multi Purpose Building. Among the rooms are two classrooms, a kitchen, and a large open area to congregate, this is the most important building on the site. It will be where the orphans come daily to receive a meal, as well as to learn about God and maybe get help with school work. In addition to that, it will be used for a Pastor Training School that Navice holds for a few days every few months. He invites pastors from surrounding regions to be taught accurate doctrine, theology, and etc.

Second is the Bath House. There is a boys’ side and a girls’ side, each side having three sinks, three toilets, and three showers. Although it may seem very simple to us, it is very high quality, especially when compared to the rest of Serenje. It is spacious, and it will have running water and lighting. The fact that the children will be able to bathe properly is very significant, considering that hygiene can be very poor here.

Third is the Storage Building. Equipment and supplies will be stored in there, and probably food as well. It will also be used like a garage, for working on anything necessary. We will be using it as a base of operation for completing the rest of the construction. We have been using a storage building across town, but this will be a much better place to store supplies and work from once it is finished.

The fourth building is the Guest House, which will be used for short term teams that come over from Brookside and Cornerstone. The three buildings that Brookside is funding have been given priority, so progress on the Guest House has just recently begun.
The buildings are much different than what we’re used to at home. They are built with cement blocks from the ground up, with steel window and door frames. Then the roofs are put up with wood trusses and rafters, and steel roof tiles. Wood is not used in building often here, because termites pose a serious threat, so all wood must be painted completely and carefully with a preservative and termite repellent. The inside and outside walls are then covered with plaster (similar to concrete or mortar) before being painted. All the buildings will also have plumbing, running water, and electricity, so those are installed along the way. Then there are finishing things such as installing the ceilings, lights, switches, sockets, sinks, toilets, breakers, etc. There are many more details, so all of you construction guys can feel free to email me questions and comments.
Because we are in Africa, the processes of construction are much more limited, so it takes plenty of time. Almost everything is done by hand, from filling in and compacting the foundations with dirt, to mixing, pouring, and leveling concrete for the floors. It can also be difficult to get supplies, so we have to be thinking ahead and ready for what’s next. Zack, from Cornerstone, is in charge of the overall construction. It’s obvious that he is well qualified for overseeing that everything is done well.
So that’s a quick summary of the construction details. Here is a link that I posted at the beginning of the month of some pictures I had taken so far. I will be posting more recent ones soon, so be sure to check back for those.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Construction is coming along well…in my next post I’ll put up some pictures and explain a little of what’s going on. The Bible Study has been going great too! Many of the workers continue talking about it and other topics throughout the day, and they ask me questions about God, the Bible, and etc. as we work.

At the end of last week Novice and I distributed food to a total of about 150 orphans. The biggest group was out in Kamena, about 2 hours on a bumpy dirt road from Serenje. It was overwhelming to see so many children who had lost their parents. Novice has worked hard to try to get all the orphans with a good “caretaker,” so they can at least have a place to live. When we distribute the food, all the orphans come with their caretakers to collect it, so it was quite a big crowd. Before we distributed the food, I gave a brief message, so it was pretty crazy to stand on top of a truck and talk to over 200 people. I threw in a few Bemba words that I’ve learned along the way, so they really liked that. I think they liked the message I shared, and they were all very, very grateful for the help they were getting. The cuteness of the kids hasn’t faded at all.

I’m continuing to see the harsh realities of life here. I now know several workers who have lost parents, siblings, and their own children…with three more deaths this week. It’s difficult to watch, I’m definitely being challenged through it. I regularly have people ask me for assistance…I regularly have people ask me for a job…I regularly have people ask me for food. It can seem very hopeless at times…but there is hope. That’s why God brought me here, and why we’re building an orphanage, and why many of you gave to the cause…because there is hope.

Prayer Requests: My time is about half up here, there is a lot I want to do, pray for me to maximize my efforts and use my time wisely…for the Bible Study we have two mornings a week with the workers…for the parentless children, that they would be loved…for my growing friendship and discipleship with Sunday.

Friday, January 23, 2009

My friend Sunday

Hey guys! I'm hanging out with my friend Sunday right now. He's a pretty cool guy. He's in charge of running the farm that will supply food for the orphans. I'm showing him how I upload photos on my computer, and I post them on the blog. Here's a picture that I took of the crop earlier today. I asked Sunday what he would like to say to you all, and he said, "Jack's doing a very good job here, and I'm very interested to spend more time with him."

Tomorrow, Novice and I will be distributing food to over 100 orphans, and I'll be speaking on Grace, so please pray for us.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What's Jack up to?

You might be wondering, “What’s Jack been up to?” So I thought I would give a few short notes on some different things that have been going on. First though, here's a picture of some of the workers. From the left it's Gilbert, Henry, Goodson, Ackson, and Julius. You can also see Barnwell further back between the last two guys. They are holding up some new tools we got them.
Last week it was raining a lot one morning, so we delayed the beginning of the work day. There are two workers that come to our “house” and we give them a ride to the job site every morning. We had extra time, so I invited them in from the rain. We started talking about different things, and we ended up talking about school, since the new semester is starting up. Along the way, one of them mentioned Religious Education class, where they learn about the Bible (Zambia is a Christian nation if you didn’t know that). Can you imagine that in America? It seems like people freak out if you even say the word Bible in a public school, but it’s normal to teach about it here. From that we launched into a discussion about what it means to be a Christian, and similar topics…it was great, we talked for about two hours. They are both Catholic, although I’m unsure at this point of how similar Catholicism is here compared to America, but I plan on going to Church with them some time. I also look forward to future conversations with them, which they are extremely open to.
Also last week, we had some guests over for dinner…two workers plus one’s wife. I had asked them to teach me how to make Nshima (the staple food here). It was a great evening of sharing about each other’s cultures, talking a little about Christianity, having fun eating and just fellowshipping with each other. Plus, now I know how to make Nshima, which is very easy. So that was a great time.
On Sunday, we drove about an hour and a half to a church in the “bush.” I was asked to preach somewhat unexpectedly…I have to admit, I was a little nervous. I first shared briefly my background and testimony of how I came to faith in Christ, along with what the Gospel is. Then I talked about what God’s unfailing love is, what it means to us, and how amazing it is. I concluded with what our response can and should be to His love (Matthew 22:36-38), and what it means to love Him with EVERYTHING we are in all that we do. After I taught and prayed, Novice spoke for a minute in Bemba. I’m guessing he was inviting them to trust in Christ, because four people (all adults) gave their lives to Christ that morning...pretty awesome! And as usual, I thoroughly enjoyed the worship…I love the way they sing here.
So those are a few cool things that have been happening lately. I also got to meet Chalwe, the orphan that Brookside has put in school for the first time in his life. We went and purchased some things he needed, and I can’t wait to hang out with him more. The next couple of days, Novice and I will be distributing food to orphans in three locations in and around Serenje. Novice also asked me to preach on God’s grace to those we're distributing to. So it should be an exciting weekend. Construction on the buildings is coming along well, and we are beginning a short Bible Study time in the mornings with the workers soon, so that will be great too.
PRAYER REQUESTS: For Chalwe as he starts first grade, he’s 10 or 11 years old, I hope he fits in and isn’t intimidated, and I hope he will be able to excel…for the orphans that we’ll be feeding in the next few days, that they would be provided with more than just physical needs, and that they would be loved…for me as I prepare what I’m going to say tomorrow on the topic of grace…and for the morning Bible Study with the workers, that it would be beneficial and relevant to them. Thanks!
Special Tribe Note: Hey guys! I miss you even more than I’m ganna miss the Super Bowl next Sunday (and that’s a lot!). I hope you’re inviting people to the Super Bowl party, I met one of my favorite people in the world at the Super Bowl party last year, and its always tons of fun. I mean, what’s more to like…football…food…friends…games…food…craziness! Anyways, you know that I love you all and miss you, I pray that you’ll make the most of Tribe every week!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"It happens"

On Thursday morning, one of our workers, Clint, told us that his wife had just delivered a baby boy early that morning. They had been planning on just walking home from the hospital later that day, but we offered to give them a ride. That evening after work we went up to the hospital to give them a ride home, but the hospital decided to keep them an extra day because the baby had a rash. Randy had a great idea to make a gift basket of some of their basic needs to give them the next day when we picked them and their new baby up. That night Randy and I picked up a few things in the local market, and Randy began to put it together.

The next morning I was driving the van to the site with Zack and James, and as we passed the hospital we saw Clint standing out front. I pulled over thinking that maybe they were being released now and said, "Good morning Clint, how's it goin'?" His response caught me off guard, "Umm...well sir, my baby has passed away." Wow...I absolutely did not see that coming. My first words to Clint were somewhere along the lines of "I'm so sorry." His response was almost even more shocking, just two words... "It happens." It wasn't as if he didn't care or was emotionally unaffected, but it was that he fully knew that this was a real possibility of how the pregnancy would end. It was almost as if they had accepted it before it happened.

We asked if there was anything we could do. "Yes," he said, "could I borrow a shovel, and perhaps get a ride to the mountain to burry my child?" I went with Clint, his wife, and a few family members to the Children's Cemetery on the side of a small mountain later that morning. It was such a weird feeling…I didn't really know what to say. I helped Clint dig the very small grave, it was very quiet. After finishing, they let me pray.

Those two words... "It happens"...have been following me around ever since. It's hard to imagine how normal it is to them that this happened. Can you imagine living in a place where that is common enough that people aren't surprised by it? Can you imagine having to ask to borrow a shovel, 'cause you don't have one but you want to burry your child? Sorry to have such a depressing entry, but it’s a harsh reality here that I thought I would share.


Saturday, January 10, 2009


The photo above is of the 5 children one of the workers has (4 are his and 1 is an orphan he's taken in). They live right next to the construction site, so when I'm near their house I have a little game I play with them throughout the day. Basically, everytime I look over, they laugh and try to hide, so I'm always looking for ways to pop out from behind something and catch them off gaurd. It's pretty much the cutest thing you've ever seen, I want to try to get video of it eventually.

Here's a link to many more photos. I hope I set this up right, and I hope it can give you a little bit of a taste of what I've been experiencing, although I feel like photos don't quite do it justice.

Also, email for questions and comments, and I'll respond slowly but surely.

Mulishani!...that's hello in Bemba

So I’ve been working hard at learning some Bemba (the main local language around here). I think all the workers have a good time trying to teach me how to say new words. I usually learn a new word, then I go practice it on another worker, then they respond to what I said in Bemba, then they laugh because I obviously don’t know what to say after that. Every time I try using Bemba, they all laugh. It’s partially because I sometimes butcher the words, but even when I get it right they laugh just because it’s funny to here me say it. The other day we were using the truck to transport dirt (we load and unload with shovels…it’s a lot of hard work). While driving on the site, I got stuck in some mud, so a bunch of the guys helped to push me out. After I was free I got out of the truck and yelled to all the workers, “mwashibukeni!” I thought I was saying “good work,” but I actually said “good morning!” (Mwabomba bwino is good work). They all laughed, then eventually one of them told me the mistake I made…it was pretty funny. But that was on Monday, I’ve come a long way with my Bemba since then.

Working with all the guys is going really well, I’ve now learned all their names. I would go around the site trying to say every one’s name, and I finally got them all right. I’ve been continuing to get to know each of them more and more, so it’s been great. Next week I’m going home with my friend Goshen after work and he’s teaching me how to make Nshima, which is the staple food around here, they eat it every day. I’m also planning on starting either a Bible study or a morning devotional a couple times a week at the job site with anyone who wants to participate. I plan on starting this week, but I still need to think it through a little first.

The progress on construction was a little slower this week because we’ve been getting too much rain. But although we don’t want rain, there are many people here who need it for their crops… so I’d rather be slowed down a little while they get the rain they need. We still need to fill in some of the foundations in order to lay the concrete in some parts. In other parts the concrete is laid and it’s pretty cool to see the walls going up. We’re also going to start on the roof for one of the buildings this week.

This weekend we came to Lusaka to pick up two more guys from Cornerstone Church. I’m really excited about it because with the extra help on construction, I’ll be freed up to do some more ministry stuff with Novice, local churches, orphans, etc. Plus, I always enjoy meeting new people. Thanks for your prayers and support! I hope all is going well in Omaha, I miss you all.

Special Tribe Note: Hey guys! I was so jealous that you got to start Tribe up again the other day without me. Tribe is honestly one of the things I miss the most! The other day I wasn’t feeling well, so I went and sat in the van by myself and read all your “Tribe Heart’s Jack” cards to cheer myself up. That was the second time I’ve read through them all, and they were just as great, so thanks again for those. Anyways, I’m really excited about Experience Night next week, it sounds like its ganna be awesome, I hope you get a lot out of it (you should take notes!). Miss you!

PRAYER REQUESTS: For me as I start up this Bible study with the workers, that I would know how to lead it well, and they would engage in it…for the progress of construction to keep moving forward efficiently…for my attitude, that I would be positive, compassionate, and humble…for all the relationships I’ve been making, that we would impact each other’s lives. (Never prayed before? It doesn’t hurt to just try).

Sunday, January 4, 2009


So I'm sitting here on Sunday morning, eating French toast and drinking coffee before Church...and you probably thought I was eating bugs every day. Actually I've been eating very well, so please don't worry about me, you’re the ones who have to deal with the temptation of fast food.

We went to Lusaka this weekend to get some more supplies for the construction. On the way there, we took Novice's son, Festus, with us. He's starting his next semester of college next week at the University in Lusaka. The drive is about 5 hours or so, so we talked about all kinds of things (as I've said before, I'm a talker).

Festus is my age, and he's very smart. He knows a lot about the world and Zambia's place in it. Basically, it’s not as if he is isolated and knows nothing beyond Zambia. (I say that because I think often times we might think that everyone in Africa is very isolated and uneducated). He has heard a lot about America, but he wasn't sure if the things he's heard were true or not, so we spent a lot of time talking about it. By the end of our conversation, he was amazed at the great potential America has...he was laughing in near disbelief at some of the things I told him.

He loved hearing about our enormous network of multi-lane roads and highways, where we can pass through a city without stopping and potholes get fixed immediately (here it takes literally years and years, even on the most major of roads)...he was shocked to hear that we had high quality free education up to the age of 18, and that a bus would pick us up if we lived too far away, yet children don't like to go to school and some even drop out! (read that one again Tribers)...he also thought it was so great that you could take out a loan to pay for college or a house, and you didn't even have to pay it back immediately (loans are few and far between here, we told him how badly Americans abuse that concept too)...we told him that a majority of people have a car, and everyone learns to drive when they're a teenager (many people never learn to drive here, and certainly most don’t ever have a car)...he asked what our staple food was, and it was difficult to answer, because in America we eat different kinds of food all the time, usually whatever we feel like having is available...perhaps most fascinating to him was that most Americans can get a job very quickly and easily, but often times we won't settle for something we think is below us (here it can take months and years to find a job, even for someone that has a college degree, literally...years! Daily, we have people coming to our door to ask for a job)...also, most Americans never have to worry about electricity or running water, for the most part if you live in a home it has electricity, not the case here...we talked for hours and the list goes on.

I think Zack and I were both thinking the same incredibly blessed Americans are, despite our incredible abuse of these privileges. Festus asked if there was anything wrong with America too. We told him that many of us Americans have come to think that all these amazing privileges we have are our rights. We think it's our right to own a car, it’s our right to have a house, it’s our right to have amazing infrastructure, it's our right to get a loan, etc. Our economic crises in America is caused because we all try to live outside our means (even though living within our means would still put us above most of the world in terms of wealth)…the economic crisis here is that there are simply less jobs and opportunities than there are people. Even in our "economic crisis", Americans are amazingly well off...this was a definite reminder to that. (My point isn't that we should feel bad about how blessed we are, but maybe that we should keep a healthy perspective, not that I'm innocent either).

It was also a reminder of something else. I recently listened to a sermon by Ed Noble where he said that advertising is built on the idea that we think we could be happier, and that there are things we need to make us happier. It’s even clearer to me over here that no material possession or form of entertainment is truly fulfilling, those aren’t ever going to be the source of our happiness…ever! There are many many people here who have very little, but they are so truly happy. What do you think they’re happy about? I feel like sometimes in America we think it is impossible to be fulfilled without full security in our wealth and comfort. Are you truly fulfilled? Anyways, I’m starting to ramble, sorry.

Our trip to Lusaka went well, we had no delays and we got most of the things we needed, thanks for the prayers. We hope to accomplish a lot on the site this week, so pray for that please! Pray for our obstacles in making progress, that we would overcome them quickly and easily. Thanks all! Email: