STAY IN THE KNOW. SIGN UP FOR OUR ENEWSLETTER

 

Entries in mission trips (14)

Saturday
Jul132013

Why Go?

Why Would You Take a Trip to Zambia?

That's a fair question. There are plenty of reasons not to go on such a trip. A trip to Zambia is expensive. Getting there takes several days. A trip to Zambia is risky (at least it appears more risky than staying home). And there's so much work to do in America, even in the city where we live. So why?

God Calls Us

As Christians we believe that God calls us to himself, and he also calls us to serve him in many different ways. This spring, fifteen people had a sense that God was calling them to go to Zambia. The Lord provided in amazing ways to make this trip possible, and we have been here to serve him.

God Stretches Us

Mission trips often pull people out of their comfort zone and throw them into all kinds of stretching situations. This week we've met new people, fumbled through a new language, tried new food, and experienced new opportunities to share the gospel and minister to others. Some of our college students have never taught God's word to others; this week they did that halfway around the world through a language barrier. As we step out in faith, God stretches us, but something else always seems to happen...God shows up. Our team members might tell you that the week was hard or challenging, but I don't think that's the first thing they would say. Many of them would tell you that they've experienced the Lord in new ways in Zambia. They have a new joy and a new passion in their faith.

God Uses Us

At Greenhill School this week, we had fourteen teams consisting of an American team member, a Zambian ministry partner, and a number of kids from Greenhill. In every team, we had stories of Zambians wanting to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Some came to realize that they didn't have a real faith, and they had the opportunity to put their trust in Jesus. Every day, I heard college students telling me that God was drawing Zambian children to himself. There's nothing more joyful or humbling than being used by God as an instrument to share his love. We have new brothers and sisters in Christ because of the work of the Holy Spirit in camp. And we suspect there is much rejoicing in heaven, too!

God Changes Us

We have been at Greenhill for five mornings. We spent one afternoon at each of these places: the Arise Home, the Destiny School, the Grace Community School, and the Cheshire Home. Our team has met hundreds of Zambian children, all with different stories and challenges. At times we are so full of joy that we don't know what to do with ourselves. In other moments our hearts are so heavy that we don't even have words to say. There have been tears of joy and tears of sadness. Through it all, the Lord has used the people of Zambia in the process of changing us. Everyone's story is different, but I know that our perspective on God's world has been enlarged. Our sense of entitlement has been rebuked. Our lack of gratitude has been exposed. Our longing for God to make all things new has grown. And our desire to know Jesus for who he really is has increased.

As we left Greenhill School this afternoon, an amazing thing happened. We were on the field when we said goodbye to the campers. Then we met as a group of leaders to pray for one another. As we were praying, an Arise Africa staffer told me, "Someone wants you up there," as she pointed up above the field to the front of the school. "Who wants us?" I asked. "The kids. They have a big thank you for your team."

As we walked up to the front steps of the school, the Greenhill students were in a huge group, already singing and dancing with all of their might. We stood on the steps in front of them as they were singing blessings over us. They thanked us for coming. They told us they would miss us. They wished us well. As I stood there with our team and listened to those beautiful voices, I couldn't help but think, "Lord, we have come to love and serve these people, and now they are literally singing over us." Surely we have received as much as we have given, and we have learned as much as we have taught.

Why would you take a trip to Zambia? One of our college students said it best this week: "I have the strangest feeling that Africa is going to turn my world upside down." A world turned upside down...sounds scary, right? But as someone who knows he needs to grow and change, these are beautiful words.

I want to thank so many of you for being part of our team and supporting our trip in different ways. Perhaps now you have a small window into why we love serving with Arise Africa. To God alone be the glory!

- Robby Higginbottom

The team.

Friday
Jul052013

4th of July Madness

Happy Fourth of July America!

We barley had time to celebrate the fourth over here in Zambia but don't worry we did!  

I have been in Zambia for about three weeks now and hit the ground running.  Camille, our Arise Africa intern has been with me the entire time and has been more than a lifesaver.  As you have seen she is updating the blog and doing many many more tasks.  She has jumped into the madness of Africa quite well.  I have loved watching her Type A personality who is incredibly organized and has everything planned out adapt to the craziness of our lives over here. She is coping with the chaos and lack of structure in a third world country.  The first few days she asked questions like, "why do they just put road humps anywhere they want?" or "so the traffic lights never work?! Why do they have them?." I put Camille on the task of handling the guy who makes our Americans their gifts and it is quite extensive. It requires him knowing names of Americans and he carves these wooden plaques for them.  I literally laugh out loud as Camille talks to Tom on the phone.  I can hear her saying things like, "Tom tell me the TRUTH how many do you really have done?"  or "Tom there is no way you have that many done last week you only did five!" or the best was  "Tom I am not giving you more money for supplies you are fine and deal with it!"

     Another great Camille moment was when she was planning her trip to Victoria Falls.  Steve Vanderheide, an incredible videographer from the USA has been working with us this past week shooting tons of video and our friend William was here helping him.  Camille, Steve, and William decided to head to Victoria Falls this weekend for a little break before the boys head back to the states on Monday.  They decided to take the bus down to the falls which is an experience in itself.  It is a 6 hour ride (if it goes well) and you get to see Zambia and the rural villages.  We gave Camille the phone number to the bus station so she could call and figure out when the bus left.  Camille called the bus station last weekend asking for the schedule for Friday the 5th of July.  The guy quickly told her she can only call two days before to know the times of when busses left or if there was even going to be a bus.  I heard Camille go, "TWO DAYS before?! How do I plan?  I already have hotel reservations!  You don't know until the day before if a bus is even going or when it leaves?!"  I was laughing hysterically as I listened to Camille struggle to accept the fact that she will not be able to plan anything until two days before.  Luckily the bus worked out and they are at the Falls right now.  Let's hope there is a bus back tomorrow! 

     Another skill that Camille has learned which I think will be very helpful on her resume in America is that she now has some experience patrolling monkeys.  Greenhill School, where we had our kids Bible camp with American families has a "pet" monkey, Jacque, who is an absolute pain.  This thing gets into everything you have.  Try running a kids Bible camp with food, (they got bananas for snack everyday!) crayons, people's backpacks, flags, and all other items all over the place.  Jacque would come flying from any tree around and swoop down and steal sandwiches out of kids hands and fly back up in the tree and taunt us with it shaking it around.  Camille was very good on monkey patrol and did her best to defend the poor kids and adults in our camp.

Yea he looks all sweet and nice right?!

This is Jacque biting Camille's hand off trying to escape, yep all week she dealt with this. 

Clearly I have great monkey patrol skills as well:

    I also realized that Camille has adapted to African life rather well when she was beyond excited when an American family left behind some Zip Loc bags for us.  She was giddy with excitement as she explained to me that we would have a bag for everyday of camp next week to put our sandwiches in and she didn't have to keep using the same one and washing it out!  It was like Christmas Day for Camille. As she explained this to me with a huge smile on her face I knew she had been in Africa long enough to enjoy the simple things in life, like a zip loc bag.  Meanwhile I was thinking to myself, why was she washing the bag out everyday last week at camp?  Just use it over and over again for the sandwiches! 

      Camille has jumped into working with our staff and the kids in the Arise Home.  She is so patient and calm when the kids want to read books with her.  She let's them listen to music on her phone.  She has helped them cook, and plays soccer outside with the boys. In fact I saw her do a victory dance when she scored a goal against Andrew, one of our best soccer players.  She loves everyone so well and has been so caring.  Megan and I would be a mess without her over here right now.  She helps both of us out so so much!

   Steve and William have been so great to have around this past week after our American families left.  They have been shooting video nonstop and doing interviews with our staff, Arise Home kids, and community school partners we work with.  William is an expert at sound now.  We are excited to see the video produced from this past week. 

    The other day we went to Destiny School and had a meeting with the parents and guardians of the children in our child sponsorship program.  They had been asking for a while to meet me, since they always see and know the headmasters of Destiny.  They wanted to thank me for helping their kids so much. I must admit I feel a bit like a crook because I am the face they see, however it is the sponsors who pay for these kids, not me.  I wish every child's sponsor could have been in this meeting, it was so touching and special to experience.  One mother stood up and her child Faith is new to our program.  Faith is HIV positive and started receiving her meal a day through us about two months ago.  The mother began to talk and said to the entire room, "As you know my child has been very sick."  Then she put her head in her hands and started to cry.  It was really hard to see and I felt this mom's pain for her child.  She went on to compose herself and explain that she is alone in this battle, the husband died a few years ago.  She takes her daughter to the hospital and they struggle to have any food at home.  To take your HIV medicine on an empty stomach is a very bad situation.  She thanked Arise Africa for the meal that Faith eats everyday at school and how that is helping her fight her illness.  Just a simple meal a day is what this mother was so thankful for.  We had the mom stay after the meeting and we explained to her that we want to help them as much as possible and that she is not fighting alone now, we will be in the fight with her.  I struggle sometimes with thinking we aren't doing enough. I was laying in bed that night asking God what else should we do. 

Here is a photo of Faith, she always wears a cap to hide her hair falling out due to the virus and being in poor health: 

Please help us pray for Faith. 

     The parents and guardians of our kids in the child sponsorship program also brought gifts for me.  I must admit I was concerned, I have been forced to eat things that aren't so great before and my weak stomach isn't a very good sport about it.  I went into this fully thinking I would be spending the rest of the day in the bathroom.  I was pleasantly surprised at the crackers, coke, and cake that was passed around!  The biggest gift I got was a VILLAGE chicken!  Let me explain this to you, a village chicken is MUCH bigger, and it is a very special occasion to eat a village chicken.  Let me also explain to you that the VILLAGE chicken was given to me alive.   

Brenda, myself, and Susan (Destiny Child Sponsorship officers) with the chicken.

    After our meeting we put the (live) chicken in our car and shot some video around Destiny School with Steve.  We went to visit two of our kids homes that are in our child sponsorship program, Vainess and James Mapita.  I didn't know off the top of my head who their sponsors were but quickly remembered when we walked in their home and they have every letter and photo their sponsors have ever sent taped to their walls. 

Steve and William have spent days in the compounds shooting video, they are an awesome team!

      Later that day I gave the village chicken to our Zambian housekeeper/mom, Susan.  She was so excited she couldn't stand it.  Susan lives in a house right behind our's.  My instructions to her were that I didn't want to know what happened to the chicken, I didn't want to hear it dying, and I didn't want to be woken up to it crowing.  She quickly said she would handle it and I never had to ask about it again.  That plan worked well until a day later when the chocolate lab puppy came running in the house and threw up a stomach full of black chicken feathers.  hmmm... I am choosing not to ask and pretend like it didn't happen. 

     We celebrated the fourth of July very casually over here in Zambia.  We were invited to the US Embassy for a celebration party.  We had fun hanging out with embassy staff and the US Marines that guard the Embassy.  I would show you photos but you aren't allowed to take photos of our Embassy!  After the embassy party we had Zambian and American friends over to our house for some burgers, apple pie and other treats.  It was fun to go around the table and her Americans from all over the USA talk about their family's fourth of July traditions.  There is some weird stuff people do!  I also realized not every state appreciates fireworks as much as Texans do.  It was cool to hear the Zambian's take on things as well.  We had tons of lefotver food that everyone got to take home. I accidentally pulled out the Zip Loc bags to send food home with folks and Camille quickly reminded me that we need to ration our plastic bags and not waste them on our guests!

    I am enjoying a weekend of quiet as we prepare for this next week. We have another full week of American college students from PCPC church coming in on Monday to run a kids Bible camp. We are excited and know the Lord will use their time here in a great way. 

In Him,

Alissa

 

 

Thursday
Jun272013

Family Faith Camp, Day 4

Memory verse: When I am afraid, I will trust in God. - Psalm 56:3

We had lots of surprises in store for the kids at camp today. First of which was a camp volunteer dressed as a solider in the Lord’s army. Jeremiah did a great job showing the group that faith isn’t just idea we have, but a shield we put on everyday.

Jeremiah making his grand entrance onto the soccer pitch holding his shield of faith.

After Jeremiah grabbed everyone’s attention, Solomon followed up with a lesson on how we can use our faith as a shield, specifically when we’re scared. After Solomon volunteered that when he was little he was scared to cross the road, hands shot up everywhere. One little girl said she was afraid of dogs (further evidence to support my earlier post). Once the group broke off into teams, discussions got personal, which we love. I love that the Americans are getting done with the day saying they’re learning, too. Everyone has something to offer, and even if it is just a week of time to love on some kids, we’re doing it whole-heartedly.

Abraham and Brian being silly while making their shields of faith.

The real fun came when we broke out the tin foil. Some of these kids have never seen aluminum foil before, but today they got to wear it as the armor of God. Arise Africa staff member Megan, introduced Ephesians 6 for the teams to reference as they dressed up.

“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil on. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:13-17

With our “armor of God” it was a little hard to walk.

 Soldiers in the Lord’s army all decked out.

This afternoon we spent time at Cheshire Home. A place were severely disabled children live full-time. The complex also has a day school and therapy center. Our only job was to love kids. Some kids couldn’t speak, some kids couldn’t walk, but everyone could smile. Coloring was a huge hit, and nine-man wheelchair race finished off the afternoon.

Eliza doing a great job manning the coloring table. We had planned all along to leave the crayons for everyone, but when it came time to clean up a gallon size ziplock worth of crayons had disappeared into everyone’s pockets.

 

Jake making the trek back up to the dormitories.

With the week winding down, it was no surprise that the conversation around the dinner table was passionate and compassionate. Everyone sees there is a need here that goes well beyond a mission trip, or a year here. That’s why Arise Africa is committed to linking arms with existing schools and following the lead of our local staff.

The theme of this week is faith. As a missionary organization working with kids, faith exactly describes the why behind continuing to work in an area where putting a child through school for a year can look like just putting a child through school for a year. We continue to do it because we have faith that this is the work God has called us to do, and even if we can’t see the whole picture, God can. He knows how that one child who only got to go through a year of school with us before his parents took him to a remote village is going to play into His master plan. We don’t know, but we have faith because we know that He does.

- Camille

Tuesday
Jun252013

Family Faith Camp, Day 2

Today’s memory verse: For we walk by faith, not by sight. – 2 Corinthians 5:7

The completed ark. What ten creative kids can build in an hour with minimal supplies.

Solomon and Kochelani work together every day at Grace Community School as child sponsorship officers. The largest component of their day-to-day work is to disciple children. Therefore it should have come as no surprise that their teaching on Noah’s ark was spot on.

Noah’s faith is huge. For a hundred years, he built an ark for a rain no one had ever seen. Imagine what the neighbors were saying the day before it started to rain. Imagine having to tell people you’re waiting on the Lord’s perfect timing for over one hundred years! It reminded me that I am so blessed to see the fruit of the Lord’s work, particularly in Arise Africa. Solomon and Koch did a great job communicating the message that we can have faith despite the most difficult of circumstances.

Then we sang a song calling for Noah to open the door, because even if the typical American Noah story glosses over the fact that more than a few people got left outside the ark, Zambians tell it straight.

Arise staff member Lucy leading worship this morning. She and Brenda were getting onto all of us for a poor effort in yelling JESUS is POWER!

Arise Staff members Kochelani (left) and Solomon (right) telling the story of Noah’s ark.

Older kids drawing animals for Noah, Noah let ____ come over (Red Rover)!

Noah, Noah game in action. We had to warn the Americans that these types of games get pretty physical, but not to worry, they’re just competitive kids.

After camp wrapped up at Greenhill, the crew was off to Mother Teresa’s Orphanage and Hospice to love on some kids. Mother Teresa’s has been a great friend to Arise. One of kids was very, very sick and needed full-time (hourly feedings around the clock), Mother Teresa’s team took him in and nursed him back to health. We try to help in any way possible, and a lot of times that just looks like a couple extra hands to hold kiddos. Today, however, we were able to deliver blankets to keep the kids warm in this uncommonly cold weather.

On a side note, the monkey is officially on the loose. He’s a scrappy little guy and has learned to be quick on his feet from defending himself against a whole school of children. Plus Alissa.

Alissa playing with matches with the pet monkey, Jacque. The children know exactly how this is going to end and are clinging to legs.  Seconds later the matches are all over the ground, the camera is flying through the air, and Jacque is making a getaway.

Until tomorrow,

Camille

Monday
Jun242013

Family Faith Camp, Day 1

Today’s memory verse:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and being certain of what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1

From “We are faithful! We are faithful!” to “We love. We trust. We hope. We love God!” to the twelfth year boys singing an impressive song, Greenhill School’s soccer pitch was a chorus of voices today. The schedule called for teams to come up with a team chant, but we got a whole lot more. One team even made a six-man pyramid.

Today was the first day of Faith Bible Camp at Greenhill Community School in Chamba Valley. Greenhill is the most removed from the city of all the schools Arise Africa partners with, but we are happy to make the trek for Mrs. Tembo, the founder. Even if there is a sly little monkey that is prone to stealing specks, keys, and baby chickens.

Landrie and the team evaluating their blank team flag before beginning their work.

The shyness lasted about fifteen minutes before all hands were on deck to address the first work of the day: making a team flag. Our enthusiastic crafters are going to finish off their flags tomorrow morning, but there are already some great flags in the works. Team “God’s Warriors” and “Za Am Galaxy” made great progress today.

Team Unashamed got their name from Proverbs 1:16 and are shown above after putting their hand prints on their flag in fabric paint…the paint turned out to be as water-resistant as possible.

One critical part of the week is the identifying chitenge headbands. When attention spans run short and an impromptu game of tag breaks out or a full-field race, we quickly know who belongs to who. That, and they look pretty cool, too.

Brandon taking a break from decorating their team flag to distribute chitenge headbands.

This is the very first Arise Africa mission trip with American kids, and we are so impressed at how flexible, kind, and adventurous this bunch is. We love the energy level. We love the questions. We love the goofiness all around - parents and kids.

Another thing we love, is that anywhere in the world, a kid is a kid, and can play with any other kid. It doesn’t matter if it’s a soccer ball made from grocery sacks tied together or a black and white checkered one, it’s still a good starting point for a great soccer game. In the same way, that the Bible is the Bible, anywhere in the world. At dinner, going around the table, Cannon’s highest moment of the day was getting the memory verse correct. I think that’s what I like most about the camp. Everything about today emphasized that we’re all the same, we’re all God’s children, and we all need to know God’s Word.

Eliza with her group listening to volunteers recite their memory verse.

Ryan jumping with his group and practicing their chant.

At the end of camp, we piled back into the minibus and were off to the next stop: Destiny School in Matero Compound. Arise has sixty children in the child sponsorship program at Destiny School, two child sponsorship officers, and a majority of the children living in the Arise home are from Matero.

The families’ homes in Matero are not the best. In one family’s home, ten people – aunts, counsins, parents, everyone – come home to a house the size of a king bed...if that. One of us was so shocked at how dark it is inside, even in broad daylight. But that’s a good thing, too, because the fewer places light can get in means fewer places the rain can get inside during the rainy season. The mother is incredibly loving, kind, and hospitable. She is also incredibly grateful that the Lord has allowed her a structure for her family to live and a program where her children can get the education she so values. I think of Job 13:15, but I don’t think this mother would.  From hearing her speak of the way the Lord has blessed her abundantly, I believe she lives in a 2 Corinthians 9 mindset, where God has continued to provide everything she needs to minister to her kids.

William giving a ride to a new friend at Destiny Community School in Matero.

We're gearing up for another full day tomorrow. Please pray that the Lord would allow all the children, staff, and volunteers to overcome all obstacles on the way to camp tomorrow. Pray also for the mission team as they process through all their children's questions, the new experiences, and that they would not grow weary in their work this week.

- Camille