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: