cuzambiatrip

Blogging from Zambia Trip

Little change in plans…bus rather than plane on final leg! 

Our flight is a bit delayed at Heathrow. We will be taking a bus home from OHare in Chicago instead of flying back to GR airport. I am guessing we will be home at CU around 930 pm! Getting on our flight in few minutes here in London. We can’t wait to see you all!!  

The article we are thinking about tonight in London…

Here’s a final piece by author Shauna Niequist I had ourteam readon our last night in Zambia…it summarizes much of what we feel, struggle with, and look to see in the future as our lives are forever changed…now we are in the hard spot…bringing these two worlds together as God invites us to care about both of them…prayers are appreciated! I will jot a quick update note from Heathrow tomorrow and we can’t wait to see you tomorrow night in Grand Rapids! CHIP

Four years ago, I went to Africa with my mother and my brother and a friend of ours, who is the president of a relief agency. We went to Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia, and it freaked me out. It unnerved and unraveled me, seeping into my dreams and my thoughts the way a particularly evocative movie or song does. Africa is nothing if not evocative. It’s a place of such unimaginable beauty and dignity and expanse and possibility, and such unfathomable suffering and despair and disease and decay. It is at once so alive and so wracked by death, so powerful in its landscape and physicality, and so powerless under the weight of famine and political upheaval and disease. Its intensity scared me and overwhelmed me, and I feel like I wandered through many long days there, stunned and tired and unable to digest what I saw and heard, and more specifically, what I felt inside myself. 

And even now, four years later, I’m still piecing together what happened in me and what was happening around me in those cities and villages. I wasn’t ready for Africa. I have been to lots of other places, but I wasn’t ready for the chaotic jumble of people and homes and music and muddy winding paths through the shanty-towns in Nairobi or the huts in the Ugandan bush, tiny huts in the middle of a binding, parched expanse that went on as far as I could see. I wasn’t ready for the hospitals in Zambia, where I cried and hid my eyes as much as possible, where the smell of death and the cries of people in extreme pain rang out over row after row of rusted beds with dirty and bloodied sheets. In the most disorienting change of venue, I flew from Zambia, through Frankfurt, back to O’Hare, and on to the Caribbean for a family vacation. I wish I could say that I wasn’t seduced by the smooth deck and bright white sails of the boat we stayed on, that I couldn’t swim in the perfectly warm navy-blue water because I was so overcome by the horror of what I had seen. I’m ashamed to say that wasn’t the case, and even more ashamed to say that I was glad to be there, glad to no longer be in Africa. I almost tried to let the warm salty water and the soothing wind wash away the smells and sounds of Africa. I wanted away, out from under what I had seen and felt. I talked about it a little bit, but it was so hard to explain, and so hard to go back into those places inside me. I didn’t know how to tell my husband or my friends that Africa had done something bad inside me, had demonstrated to me a part of myself I didn’t know I had. For one of the first times in my life, my beliefs and perspectives bowed and flattened under the weight of my experience.

Before I went there, I wanted to invest myself in the healing, in some small way, of Africa. But when I was there, I just wanted to leave, and I was ashamed and surprised by that part of myself. I wanted to shut my eyes and stop seeing the images of starving children. I wanted to sleep at night without smelling the scent of smoke from open fires and the sounds of guards’ heavy footsteps outside our doors. Everyone I know, it seems, wants to go to Africa, wants to volunteer for a few days in an AIDS clinic or an orphanage. And that’s good. It’s a good impulse to want to see it with your own eyes and to want to be a part of the solution. I encourage them to go and recommend organizations and churches to connect with, but inside myself, I whisper to them, Be careful. You will be haunted by what you find there, and you won’t be able to wash away what you’ve seen and heard. You will see things and hear things, and then you will be responsible for them, for telling the truth about who you are and who you discover you are not, and for finding a way to make it right. I had to make things right in two ways. I had to do something personally to make things right in Africa, because now I knew too much and couldn’t erase the images and sounds that had embedded themselves in me, like seeds planted in a garden. I had to make something happen right there, which is both enormously daunting and shockingly simple.

Daunting because of how massively tangled the roots of the issues have become-it is about famine and sexual violence and patriarchy and racism and economics and medicine, and when you think you’ve knit together the magical solution, one pull on one string unravels the whole thing and leaves you with a mountain of new questions, while the clock ticks away lives by the dozen. And then again, shockingly simple, because there are such good, smart people doing such courageous, good, smart things, and what can be done with tiny little bits of money is just dazzling. Also, though, and more difficult, I had to make things right within me. I had to confront the person I found on that trip, the one who wanted to fly home the first night and pretend the whole thing was not real. That’s the trick, I think.

That’s why actually getting on a plane and going there is dangerous and very important. Because I could not forget about it, as desperately as I wanted to. I had to clear away space in my mind and my heart, spaces previously occupied by easy things–groceries to buy, albums to download, people to call–and replace them with the weight of Africa, a heavy, dark thing to carry with me, something under which to labor, something under which to tremble. Because once you see it, you will never be able to un-see it, and once you see it, you will be responsible for it, and for the self it reveals back to you.

Somehow on that trip, I grew softer and harder in unexpected places. But more than that, I’ve grown since that trip, because there is a new thing inside me, however thoroughly I tried to escape it. Africa has grown like a stubborn stalk in the soil of my life, despite my resistance, despite my fear and selfishness. It took some time, after the trip. It took some time for me to want to talk about Africa, to want to read about it again, to want to hear about it at church. But I saw it, and carried it with me, and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t un-see it, so all I could do, it seemed, was enter back in, in an entirely new way. I will never recapture my naïveté, my idealism about what magical solution might just bind up all the broken pieces. But I practice listening, learning and praying. I practice telling the truth about myself, the truth I was too proud to admit four years ago, that I’m scared and that when faced with death, I cried, instead of rising up like a nurse or a prophet. I hid my eyes.

But I don’t anymore. The baby growing in my belly as I write has brought my memories of that trip into focus. What was distant and abstract is now bursting into my field of vision in sharp relief: mothers could not feed their babies. I understand that now in a way that I did not, could not, then. My own mother has said that AIDS in Africa will be addressed and eventually healed by mothers. Then, I thought she meant women in general, possible mothers, I guess. But the non-mother-me who took that trip didn’t get something that the mother-me does now. Everything looks different–Africa and my own neighborhood and my own belly and the pregnant bellies I saw there, others carrying babies who will be born hungry and live hungry every day of their lives.   

There is a food truck that comes to our neighborhood twice a month. A wonderful local church sets up the truck in their parking lot, and people line up around the block for potatoes and formula and apples. Our house church volunteers sometimes, unpacking the food and packing it into the laundry baskets and bags and buckets that our neighbors bring. I’m silenced every time, watching women just like me, carrying babies they love the way I love mine, tucking onions and corn and juice into baskets, because without the food truck, they would not have enough food for their children. What happened in me on the other side of the world is working its way through my life like yeast through dough, right in my neighborhood. I help feed people on Thursday afternoons, a tiny thing, but one that is important to me, because once you see something, you can’t un-see it. I saw the women in that line with their babies, and I can’t un-see them. And I don’t want to.

One night in Africa we climbed to the highest point we could find, through waist-high bushes and bramble and thorny underbrush, and when we came to the top, we looked out at the sun setting across a majestic and regal land, land that had been given and taken and stolen and drenched with blood, but land that at that moment was glowing with the softness of the fading sun and the rich purples and greens of harvest time. The property on which we stood was walled on all sides, and the top of the wall was spiked with broken bottles so that no one could scale it without being cut on the glass. We stood inside the wall, and the broken bottles glinted in the sun like sparklers, keeping people in, keeping people out, twinkling and beautiful, and at the same time, embedded with violence and division, and in those two things, those twin natures, lies Africa. And in Africa I discovered my own twin natures, extending to me two hands, one holding terror and despair and one hope, and day-by-day, I make my choice. There is hope for Africa, and there is hope for me, and for my neighborhood, for the shards of broken bottles that puncture and divide us all. 

GOOD BYE to ZAMBIA…

We are in the Lusaka airport awaiting beginning our series of flights to come home…we spent our morning visiting 2 more ministry sites…

1. We visited the incredible CURE HOSPITAL that specializes in neuro and ortho surgeries for children with complex and complicated situations…it’s an incredible facility staffed by remarkable doctors and nurses and staff…we talked to children and families in the Children’s Ward who are recovering from surgeries and even met up with some other college students from across the country who are on a 3 week experience at the hospital…it is truly one of the most remarkable places in Africa and every child pays nothing to have their surgeries…JUBILEE CENTRE has had many children operated on at Cure, and my home church ADA BIBLE is a major partner in their ministry…many of our students with health care related majors and career ambitions are taling about starting a CUREU chapter on our campus next year…

2. We also heard from a network of church leaders about the impact of HIV and MALARIA in their Lusaka neighborhood…and we received an ovation from the Zambian pastors for the bed nets that they distributed in their own neighborhoods from resources raised by NIGHT OF NETS…

Today we saw being lived out by African Christians LUKE 9:2 where Jesus calls us to proclaim the coming of the KINGDOM of GOD & HEAL the SICK in a most compelling combination…

We also enjoyed a quick trip for some bartering on Zambian goods at a local market and a final dinner with Lawrence Temfwe, the director of Jubilee, before heading to the airport…

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So now we begin the long journey home…and we re-enter American life after 10 days in a culture so different than our own…many of us come home perhaps forever different, inspired, confused, overwhelmed, and blessed…and we can’t wait to tell stories and show pictures and let you read our journals…

Yet after leading many trips to sub-Saharan Africa I do want to offer a word of wisdom to parents and friends…the transition back can sometimes be hard, often harder than one expects…you can struggle with immense guilt for all that you have, you can’t find the words to tell others what you’ve actually seen and experienced, and you even find yourself embarrassed at moments of emotion that come when you least expect them from a story or memory or even news story or TV commercial…there’s often even a strong sense of anger at the materialism and wealth of American culture…so I would encourage you to be patient and understanding…students coming home desperately need you to hear and understand some of what they’ve encountered…and they will love telling you what they’ve seen and learned…but it may take a day or two…and the grace you show in the transition will help them in the process of trying to integrate Zambia into the rest of their lives…

My prayer is that they will indeed never be the same in what they believe, say, do, and think as a follower of Jesus because of these past 2 weeks…

We have felt and loved knowing you are praying…we can’t wait to come home…I’ll hopefully shoot a quick note from LONDON where we will spend Sunday night before our flights home on MONDAY…

 

CHIP

 

Good night from Lusaka

We are heading to our last night of sleep here in Zambia. We fly out very late tomorrow night to Nairobi and then on to a London arrival on Sunday evening. 

We spent most of our day traveling to Lusaka today. We even had a few extra minutes at a beautiful lunch spot along the way due to a little radiator issue on the bus that was quickly resolved. 

Lusaka is the Capitol of Zambia and by far its largest city. It is a fascinating mix of modern business and economic development and vast urban poverty. We are excited to spend out last day here focusing on health care and the specific impact and issues connected to malaria and bed nets in Jubilee Centre partnerships here. We also look forward to a visit to the Zambian art market in town here as well. 

After our dinner out at a new Zambian mall we spent a couple hours debriefing our whole trip. Each team member answered 3 questions: 

1. What was the moment or memory that most stood out to you during your time here in Zambia? 

2. What is a key idea you’ve learned and truth from Scripture that’s come alive? 

3. What are your short term and long term next steps in response to our trip? 

The answers were profound, challenging, and insightful. I hope you’ll hear those answers at home in the days to come…

The community has been exceptional on this trip and it’s an incredible blessing in doing Kingdom work together with so many fantastic people. 

Pray for our last day…and the processing going on as we trAvel. I’ll shoot out a final trip blog from London…

Chip

A trip to kakolo village…and more

We headed north once againtoday after celebrating a final time of devotions and communion together with the Jubilee staff under a leave tree to a different village community about 30 minutes north of Ndola called Kakolo Village…this is the community where I first began to get involved in development work in Zambia and this a place where God did miracles in the lives of US students and a Zambian community…

This is my 8th visit to this place…and often kids will start yelling my name when our bus rolls in…it’s beyond surreal and completely humbling…this community was one of the poorest and sickest and forgotten spots in Africa a decade ago…and then God invited a group of high school students to raise the funds to build the first school in this area, answering years of prayers in most surprising ways…that first little two block schoolhouse now has expanded to many, many rooms and houses over 1000 students in grades 1-9…students who came to visit and fell in love with the people and this place began to address other needs such as medical clinics where HIV is no longer passed from mothers to their unborn children, deep clean water wells keep students in school, bicycles provide life-changing transportation, long term food security keeps workers able and alive, and ministry centers share the good news of Jesus with those Jesus said he came to save and bless…

In front of the school American and Zambian flags fly together and we were treated to songs of welcome and thanks along with some amazing native dancing (and yes, we all were pulled out into the middle of the school courtyard to dance with them) from the school children…and we walked back to a soccer field with massive dirt mounds around it which the community built by hand for students and staff from Wheaton Academy to always have a place to play together the game we love as a thank you…after losing in penalty kicks (yes, I missed the penalty kick on my home field! ) we all took a picture around the plaque bearing my name that is still one of the greatest gifts and honors I have ever received in my life…the perfect Zambian gift…

The whole story is in a book I wrote with the help of many of my former students that I continue to love sharing with my friends in Africa at: http://www.zambiaprojectbook.com

It’s always a highlight to bring my CU students to this place…and see how change can come and hope can overcome after wondering if we will and can ever do anything to address the massive issues we’ve seen right in front of us…and how God longs to use students to do more than they could ever dream or imagine to make this world look more like God’s Kingdom because of His power and love at work in them so deeply…it’s a place where dreams are born…God sized-dreams we’ve been challenged to consider this week…


We also had the opportunity to visit an incredible ministry partner called Seeds of Hope where we learned incredible things about the impact and need for clean water…and all the incredible tools they are developing and using as they have brought clean water and a better life to over 600,000 lives in Zambia…
We visited them because we are having all our incoming students at CU read a book called A Thousand Wells that is connected to this organization. I know many of our students on this trip will be incredible thought and action leaders as we engage this issue of clean water in a deep dive next year back at CU…

We enjoyed a final dinner out in Ndola to thank all the Jubilee staff as we get ready to head to Lusaka and leave our home for the past week…it will be a huge day for us in our debrief process and your prayers are deeply appreciated as we think about how we will live and dream and pursue Christ and His Kingdom differently in the days following this trip…

With Gratitude for this past week in Zambia together…Chip

Heading into the Bush…

Today we headed into a community that might look like what you think about when you hear AFRICA. Thatch roof huts, long grasses, and dirt roads…

But we also experienced so much more than just a new environment. As we drove into CHIBATA our mini-bus was greeted by a tunnel of palm branch waving Zambians singing a welcome song for us. we gathered under trees today to get to know one another and to help create new transformational partnerships between JUBILEE CENTRE and a community that had just about been forgotten still in our world today…

We were definitely the first group of non-Zambian folks to come into this community and we had the opportunity to see what God was up to and what could be done in the days to come…we gathered in circles on the ground to talk about discipleship, mentoring, sexual purity, women’s health and gender issues, educational strategies, and food security…and how God might lead both of us to even greater things in the future…

This is a community that has never had a school for children to attend before the church helped fund a community school; this is a community that hasn’t had access to bed nets for their people and can now have bed nets in the future through a new NIGHT OF NETS partnership site; and this is a community where women are seeking to change the future through a community garden and micro-business ventures;(we bought some beautiful hand made baskets) and this is a community where their first women’s soccer team ever that competed against us is a sign of change and growth and new opportunities…

And this is a community that demonstrated radical hospitality and generosity today through draping a cloth ZAMBIA flag on each of us in a welcome line and giving us an extravagant lunch from the crops they have raised and saved in their own thatch roof homes…and we are moved to be more generous, to have greater faith, to welcome strangers, to advocate for justice, and to talk about our faith in clear and compelling ways as we follow their example…

Who would have thought God would bring us together…and that the daughter of the community leader would teach at a school we visit tomorrow in another part of Zambia? Tomorrow we spend our last day in NDOLA and we will celebrate communion and a final dinner with many of our friends from JUBILEE CENTRE…we can’t wait to see how we can learn and grow and serve on that day …

We miss you and cannot wait to share our lives and stories and new thoughts with you when we get home…good night from chilly Zambia as student conversation still carries on in the background as I type…CHIP

 

 

 

 

Monday & Tuesday in Africa…

Hello from Zambia as the sun sets (at 530pm!) on a Tuesday afternoon…

We’ve had a busy and full 2 days in communities here in the COPPERBELT region of this beautiful nation…

On Monday we went into a community called CHIFUBU where we joined the church community there in several different activities. Several members of our team had a chance to get to know and teach a lesson on hygiene as we passed out toothbrushes and toothpaste (their first ones for many) to over 100 kids in a community school. Community schools are started and staffed by churches here in the JUBILEE CENTRE network to help students whose parents can’t afford to send them to school ($20 per semester) or there aren’t enough schools to host all the students. They also saw their garden where they grow vegetables for the students and to help feed the staff members who work there.

Many members of the team also helped with the construction of a new church building. We have been funding the construction supplies for the last five years of our trips here and they now have the walls finished and will soon be adding a roof. The church also has built a home where they can foster children who have found themselves in situations where child headed household because their parents and other family members aren’t able to care for them.

 

The whole team then led a special AWANA event where they sang songs, recited Bible verses and did a bunch of crazy games in the Zambian dirt. Every day we spend surrounded by children. I look and see almost every CU student with a child holding each of their hands as we walk around the community. They are constantly singing with them, teaching them funny phrases and motions, and holding them as they walk from site to site in our communities. I love seeing how they simply love with physical touch and laughter and words of care to those often forgotten by the rest of their community. They are following Jesus’ admonition to let the children come to Him in real and impactful ways this week…

Today on Tuesday we set out for Chibuluma, a community a bit further away from the city context…unemployment runs about 70% in this area due to the loss of many jobs in the mining industry that is now foreign owned and there is tremendous physical and spiritual needs…

We heard first-hand about the impact of malaria in so many lives and one church leader shared how he struggles with the reality that he only has 2 bed nets and he needs a third one. He lives in fear wondering as he trades off if the children not sleeping under the net on that night will contract a disease that quickly threatens many child lives. Our Night of Nets initiative has provided hundreds and hundreds of bed nets in a concentrated area in this community (and several others throughout Zambia), and the church distribution of these nets funded by students on the other side of the world is a tangible and impactful demonstration of the Kingdom of God coming to bear in full in Zambia.

Our students spent time talking with students involved in youth activities in their churches about the challenge of their family cycles of poverty and abuse and what it means to know and follow Jesus in each other’s cultures. Many spiritually mature Zambian Christians have challenged and changed us because of their faith and perspective and joy. It’s a rich privilege to engage and learn from and serve together with our African brothers and sisters over these 10 days. It’s actually a huge highlight of our week…

We also had a chance to help prepare and serve a special meal of traditional Zambian food for 150 children in the community who are at risk for malnutrition and often have 1 small meal per day in their homes. They regularly come on Saturdays for this meal that the HOME BASED CAREGIVERS in the church make possible. You can’t help but think about food in our home context and what it means to be hungry in new ways…

There’s always a little soccer on the homemade pitch in every community where we end up playing, and I’ve loved having the chance to talk and share some ideas on mentoring and developing young leaders with many different talented and compassionate church leaders who are truly the heroes of the faith in my eyes…

Tonight we did have a fairly emotional and challenging conversation processing all we’ve seen and experienced so far in Zambia. You can’t help but have your heart broken…and there are so many questions that are raised about how to best turn that emotion and your own gratitude for what you and what you’ve experienced into the best and most appropriate action and long term engagement with what you now know and what you are responsible for…that’s where we need your prayers tonight as our trip continues and together we seek to help to answer some of those questions in the days to come…

God is here…He’s on the move…and we’ve seen Him show up even in providing healing and care for a few team members dealing with health issues…thanks to African prayers, your prayers at home, and my wife the nurse! (she’s probably the MVP of the trip so far in my opinion)  all are doing well tonight and we have 2 days left in NDOLA before we head to the capital city of Lusaka…I’ll leave you with a couple pics and the passage I closed our team time with tonight that beautifully speaks to our learning and experience…CHIP

2 Corinthians 9:6-15The Message (MSG)
6-7 Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.
8-11 God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,

He throws caution to the winds,
    giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
    never run out, never wear out.

This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.
12-15 Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they’ll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!

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Church in Africa…

Happy Father’s Day from ZAMBIA! We miss our dads today and are grateful for your impact and even your support for each of our team members on this trip…

Going to church in Zambia is always one of the highlights of our time here…it is a little bit different to hear a group of college students talk about the fact that they wish a 2 ½ hour service could have been longer!

We broke into 2 groups and went to 2 churches in the MAPOLO area where some of the poorest of the poor in our world today live. We were welcomed and escorted to the front of the church where we were seated in special seats of honor. The service is full of worship and JOY in the singing and dancing in a simple brick wall building. Our team was quickly invited to join in the worship and every member of our team was dancing (quite well I would add!) and singing in BEMBA, the local language. Church in Zambia is a highly participative event, and we were thrilled to be part of worship that is loud, beautiful, and full of authentic praise from every member in the church benches.

The church invited us to be a major part of the service, and many of our students shared their lives and the Word of God with those in the church. We sang the song “EVERY MOVE YOU MAKE, YOU MAKE ME MOVE JESUS” and Claire, Reid, Lindsey, and Nick gave testimonies in the services and Eric and James preached the sermons. I loved seeing our students encourage their brothers and sisters in Zambia in meaningful and heart-felt ways. They shared God’s Word with passion and joy, and you get plenty of AMENS and WHOOPS and CLAPS when you speak to an African congregation.

I love seeing the church’s impact and influence in the communities where they serve. One church recently put in a new clean water well right next to their building that serves as THE source of both clean physical water and the LIVING WATER of Jesus. They truly serve as the hope and the life source for their people.

It was a great experience that left us with a vision of what church can and should be. Our debrief conversation tonight focused on how we can invite and influence our churches to engage their communities in new and compelling ways with the love of Jesus and to bring the Kingdom of God to this place. There is already a deep sense of calling and belief that our experiences here must impact how we live and serve in new ways when we head home.

We had a late afternoon game of soccer in the local park and a traditional Zambian dinner tonight eating nshima, the staple food eaten daily by almost every Zambian.

Tomorrow brings a super full week of ministry experiences for us…even tomorrow will involve church construction, education, health care, and leadership development experiences…God has so much for us to do and experience and learn in the next 6 days in Africa…thank you for your prayers and love and excitement for this team and trip…

We are having a great time as friends and love the opportunity to dream and learn together in a supportive and loving community…

With JOY in our hearts tonight…CHIP

p.s. Here’s some pics from our church experience today…

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Playing the Beautiful Game…

Here’s a post from CU Women’s Soccer Coach RANDY STRAWSER recapping today’s soccer day here in NDOLA…

 

Today we went to Mapolo which is a very poor neighborhood outside of Ndola. Most of the people there do not have running water or electricity.  Many families live on less than $1 per day of income. We were to play a local team coach by Kennedy who has become good friends with Chip over the past few visits.  He had publicized the match so we had quite the crown waiting for us when we showed up.  We had the chance to share two different words of encouragement to them about what it means to honor God through playing the game we love and reminding them to keep pursuing a life outside soccer as well. The ladies in our group were able to play some of the local girls in a soccer match which was fun.  The game was competitive and ended in a 1-1 tie.  The girls are just starting to play more in Zambia.  I was told that they had improved tremendously since the last trip to Zambia.

The boys team that we were to play was very good and proved to be quite the challenge for our mix of players.  They were very skillful and controlled the play for most of the match.  We lost 3-1 in that game.  Griffin Mitchell, the brother of CU men’s team member Reid Mitchell, scored our first goal in Zambia and we celebrated with quite a bit of gusto! It is quite the scene to see the field lined with people all around the sidelines.  You literally had little kids hanging all over you most of the time.  We took pictures with the other team after the game and were surrounded by kids everywhere as we loaded up the bus to leave the field.  They kept running beside the bus as we exited the field.

It is very dry here right now but I imagine that Mapolo is a muddy swamp during the rainy season.  I know that many people don’t have access to clean water there.  I have been very impressed and blessed by the people from Jubilee Centre and how much they care for those in their communities.  They are surely the hands and feet of God.  We are excited to attend church here in Zambia tomorrow and many of our team members will participate in services with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

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Our First Full Day…

Happy Friday from Zambia…

We have had a very full day that just ended with our nightly debrief time in the cool night air here in Africa…

We had the chance to visit and get to know people and stories in 3 different locations here today…

1. We went to a private high school here in NDOLA where we were given the opportunity to talk to all the high school students about the dreams God might have for their life and what it means to pursue your goals with passion and sacrifice…Reid, Kirstin, and James shared their life experiences in discovering what God has gifted them to do and what they long to see Him do in and through them as they work hard and seek to honor him…it was a joy to connect with them and speak into their lives…we even invited them to consider attending Cornerstone in the future!

2. We then went to a very different setting where we went to a local adoption agency where orphans are placed by the government when they have nowhere else to go…many of these children have lost parents to HIV/AIDS and their relatives simply cannot afford to take care of them…one little boy has just been there for 3 days after he was found by a woman wandering the streets with no one connected to him…

As we played with these kids, listened to them sing about how much Jesus loves them, and brought some bags of food and supplies for the home which is very short on resources, we were reminded of James 1:27 where we hear that TRUE RELIGION is to care for orphans like the precious kids we held and ran around with in a small yard in an urban area in Zambia today…

We also were able to give each of the 14 children sleeping in that home a bed net from funds provided by our NIGHT OF NETS initiative at Cornerstone…none of them currently sleeps under a net and they are each night so vulnerable to the impact of malaria in their critical years of their young lives…it was a poignant and moving time to see what the $6 admissions to games and $10 shirts we have been collecting and selling every year truly do in the life of some of the most vulnerable people in our world today…this picture is with LAWRENCE TEMFWE, our host and the director of Jubilee Centre and one of the children under the life-saving bed net…Jubilee is calling the church of Zambia to care for and foster and adopt many of these orphans in the years to come and providing training in partnership with Bethany Christian Services to help make this possible…

There are over 1.5 million orphans (have lost at least one parent as children) in a country of 15 million people…the challenge and call is great…

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3. Our final day’s activity was spending a couple hours with young student leaders here who are part of a program called JUNIOR PARLIAMENT where they meet regularly to develop as leaders and seek to exercise influence in their local and national political settings…we exchanged ideas on how to lead biblically, what it means to life a life of impact, and who has served as mentors and leaders in all of our lives…this group of Zambian students from very humble and challenging life situations impressed us so deeply with their love for Christ, their passion to change Zambia, and the size of their dreams to be in places of influence in the future…their deep sense of hope and wisdom from above ended up being a huge encouragement and challenge to us as we considered how we are stewarding the vast gifts and resources we have been given in our lives of blessing…we prayed for one another and we can’t wait to see what God does in and through them in the future…

Tonight, many CU students reflected on the incredible gifts of hospitality and love we have already received and how the faith of the people who know Jesus here is rich and deep and believes that God hears and answers prayers…and our faith is stretched and grows as we engage God’s Kingdom and His people in this African nation…

TOMORROW we head to the soccer pitch for the first time…we have a match in a community called MAPOLO where we have made many friends and the director of the soccer club we are playing lives…there is nothing like playing soccer in Zambia where the joy and passion and energy are so palpable and life giving…and hopefully the Zambians will go easy on us…

Your prayers mean much to us…and we can’t wait to see what God has for us in the days to come…