ACTION Zambia Team Retreat at Gwabi River Lodge

An important part of our short term trip was a retreat planned with the entire ACTION Zambia team.  We truly believe that this retreat is every bit as important as the Hospice Care workshops that we did last week.  While our BBC team is in Zambia for a short two weeks to come along side and support existing ministries.  The ACTION Zambia team is here all the time for years dealing with all the realities and difficulties of living in Zambia.  The retreat was at a very nice resort on the Kafue River south of Lusaka.  Below is a picture from the river of the resort.

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There were 11 of us on the BBC team, 11 adults AZ missionaries, 10 kids of the AZ missionaries, and 6 Zambian workers on the AZ team.  Below is a picture of the entire group.

 

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The retreat consisted in some teaching and discussion times with the adults, some Bible times with the children that happened at the same time, a 3 hour boat ride along the Kafue and Zambezi Rivers in which we were able to see some wildlife, and then good rest and times of fellowship. The theme for the teaching adult times was looking at what the Bible teaches about perseverance.  These brothers and sisters in Christ have chosen to walk down a difficult path.  We pray that they were encouraged to persevere – not based on anything we had to offer them, but based on promises from the Bible.  The theme of the children sessions was Psalm 23.  We really admire and love the AZ team.  The missionaries are like minded and the national workers are wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ.  Below are a couple of pictures of the wildlife we enjoyed.  Please pray for the AZ team who are laboring through difficult circumstances for the eternal good of the people in Zambia.

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From Steve Stein

Williams’ Baby Update

While Justin and Sarah Williams were originally on our team, God had different plans.  While they haven’t been with us, we have been blessed by their help in our preparations.  Here is an update of what God has done while we’ve been in Zambia.

On Saturday, August 2nd at 2:54pm, we welcomed our little baby girl, Elina Nay Inde into the world!  We praise the Lord for a safe delivery and for good health this first week (despite some minor jaundice issues) for little Elina.  We also thank the Lord for Elina’s amazing birth mom, who chose to give Elina life and also made the incredibly hard and sacrificial decision to choose adoption for her baby.  We have seen her great courage as she has chosen to give up something dear to her in order that her daughter may have a good home and Lord willing, come to love the Lord.  This is our second adoption now, and we love how the physical adoption of our 2 children represents an even greater spiritual reality of our adoption into God’s family:  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.  In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”  Ephesians 1:3-6.  We have loved sharing this truth with Josiah and look forward to sharing it with Elina as she gets older, too!  Speaking of Josiah, he is so happy to have a baby sister, whom he has been praying specifically for this last year.  He loves to hold her and help feed her, although he is not too fond of changing her diapers!  Maybe someday………

For those of you who have been praying about this adoption, we thank you so much for your prayers on our and Elina’s behalf.  Words cannot express how thankful we are for God’s good gift to us in her!  Truly, He has done “far more abundantly than all that we could ask or imagine!”

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– Justin and Sarah Williams

The First Graduation Ceremony

With the workshops complete and an nshima lunch devoured, we gather together for the final time under the nsaka for the first graduation ceremony for the hospice workshop seminar. Absolutely everything starts with jubilant handclapping and joyful singing in Bemba, Nyanja and English with a British accent. Steve S. prayed to begin the commencement. Pastor John Chitanbo, one of the ACTION team members and translators for the seminar, reads off each participants name. There was applause as they received their certificate from Sheryl, who just beamed with joy after all her leadership in organizing and coordinating of the seminar for the past 6 months. They then received a gift bag from Steve W. The bags were filled with gloves, hand sanitizer, a baggie of bandaids, tape and gauze, the Gospel Primer booklet, toothpaste, and a wooden cross made from light and dark wood which signifies how God is with us in the good times and the bad times. As they walked back to their seats, some of the women let out a loud cry, something like a high-pitched “I-yayeyaye”. How truly happy and joyful they were at the completion of this course, and appreciative of the encouragement to be lights of Christ to those upon which they can apply these skills. So many had to step out of their Zambian culture comfort zones and talk about some hard subjects. Many pictures were taken to mark this grand occasion. Then they climbed onto the bus for the 1½ hour ride home.

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As for the team, we had a much needed “down time” for the rest of the day. We wrote in our journals, listened to music, went on a bush walk and just relaxed with an ice cold Coke! We all praised God for the success of the first seminar. We had worked hard the past 6 months, we had some set backs and challenges but it went smoothly with great enthusiasm. While we relaxed, we also reflected on God’s goodness in allowing us to accomplish this seminar, and our hope that He will use it to spread the Gospel among the peoples here.

– Laurie (written on August 6th– Happy Birthday Mom!)

“Muli bwanji?” “Bwino” (“How Are You?” “Great!)

Our first conference was completed today in a whirlwind of workshops, speakers and wonderful music. Today, I will try to give you a feel for one part of our hospice conference by giving you a glimpse of the Wound Care Work Shop.

Each of the workshop leaders is paired with another member of the team. We are all amazed and thankful for how well we work with our partners. I am paired with Leo and he has been such a good sport-so far, I have cleaned and dressed 12 “wounds” on his arm during the teaching demos! He is great at encouraging me and jumping in where he is needed. After losing my reading glasses for one class I had him read Scripture. Now I have turned the devotional time over to him-hey, why waste the gift of having a partner who is a seminary student!

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The translators are another invaluable part of each workshop team. Leo and I have been assigned Josephat, who is a pastor and is studying and working with Action Zambia. Besides being an excellent interpreter, he helps smooth over our cultural differences. He informed me shortly after our meeting that I needed to learn the Zambian handshake instead of my uninteresting American one. Any of us would be happy to teach you too!

We have all loved interacting with the friendly Zambian participants. After the demonstration part of our workshop, they are paired up and given permanent –marker “wounds” and washable-marker “germs.” Although timid at first to ask questions and to practice, they politely humor us mzungus. By the time they leave class they are quite pleased with what they have learned and the skills they have acquired.

Although we are exhausted by the end of each day, we are blessed by the privilege of coming alongside the AZ team to train the believers here to care for their friends, neighbors and family in their last days and to share the love of Christ amidst the suffering that comes from living in this world. We would love to have you pray for strength for us during our next two conferences.

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-Beth

Hospice Care Workshop Overview

I wanted to give everyone an idea of what the hospice workshops will be like in more detail. For many it may be hard for you to imagine how hospice care could be done in Zambia (it was for me!)

We are providing these workshops at Camp Ciyanjano where groups of 30 will come to the camp for a day and a half. We will have 3 groups come to do these workshops for 6 days and run through each workshop 18 times. Those attending the workshops are non-medically trained church leaders who have already been through the C.R.O.S.S. Project curriculum on AIDS/HIV. They desire to learn more about caring for their own people in their homes. We assume that some of the attendees will have AIDS/HIV themselves.

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In getting input from the Dearths and planning these workshops, I realized that some of what they were asking for to be taught is exactly what I do as a hospice nurse. I teach families/caregivers here in the U.S. about how to care for their loved ones at home. The big difference is in the resources that are available to the Zambians (or lack thereof). As I said to my co-workers, “It’s hard to imagine doing hospice care without adult diapers or morphine.” But that is what we are attempting to do!

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Our hope and prayer for these workshops is that they are helpful, relevant and biblically encouraging. The workshops will be very basic hands on with lots of practice and we will use interpreters.

The 6 workshops we are doing include:

  • Hand washing and Sanitation: how to properly dispose of wastes.
  • Wound Care: think basic without access to any fancy dressings
  • Giving a bed-bath and making an occupied bed
  • Positioning someone in bed and safe transfers/ walking
  • Nutrition and hydration: before someone is actively dying
  • Pain management, shortness of breath and dying process.

My workshop is on pain, shortness of breath and the dying process. Much of what will be taught are non-pharmacological ways to help people- things that we in the U.S. should incorporate into our care instead of just relying on medication. We will also be having a large group workshop in the evening with teaching stories and testimonies on the Christian theology of suffering and gospel hope.

Please pray again that what we teach will be useful and helpful and if it is not we will somehow know that adapt and change. We know that our ways are not always His. We also know that we have much to learn and receive from the Zambia friends that we will be sharing our lives with.

Psalm 23- Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me.

-Sheryl

Sunday in Zambia

Sunday was our first full day in Zambia. We were all very excited to get to experience a Zambian church and meet fellow believers. Steve, Liz and Lydia went to Kabwata Baptist Church so they could reconnect with friends from their previous time spent in Zambia. The rest of us went to Faith Tabernacle, a small church set inside George compound. We were welcomed very warmly by Mozi Fera and Easter (the pastor and his wife) and everyone else in the church. Leo preached on Psalm 23 and explained what it really means to know Jesus as your Shepherd. After Leo preached, Steve Walmsley and Sheryl gave brief testimonies/encouragements. After the service, they asked us to all line up and form a sort of “receiving line” where they all greeted us. It was such a kind gesture and we all felt uncomfortably like celebrities!

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After church we had lunch and prepared for the Hospice Workshops. In the afternoon, all of the Action Zambia team gathered at Ciyanjano, along with all of the translators for the Hospice Workshops, and we welcomed back the Hiltys who have been in the US for the last 4 months. Most of the people who were there are also going to be on the AZ Team retreat that we will be going on next week, so it was great to get a chance to get to know the families better and hang out with the kids, who we’ll be spending a lot of time with at the retreat.

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-Katelyn

Lost in Travel

Oh where to begin. How about the present? The evening is cool and the hustle and bustle from the welcome potluck has quieted down. I see Eucalyptus trees standing tall and still and smell the red clay dirt. I hear laughter and shuffling from the inside as the team is working on assembling gift bags that workshop participants will receive once they have completed all hospice training. It has been a long and tiring journey just getting to this moment.

MSP to AMS

Our flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam was deceivingly smooth. We landed in Amsterdam at 5:25am local time, which is about 10pm MN time. We were advised to rest on our flight to better adjust to local time but with excitement running high, its no surprise that no one slept. Little did we know that was the first of many uncomfortable and sleepless nights that were to come.

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With a five-hour layover in Amsterdam we tried to catch some sleep before our next 9-hour flight. Half asleep- half awake we began looking at our tickets and noticed our gate had changed. Go to new gate- no problem. Once at our new gate, we notice our flight is now to be delayed. Delaying this flight would mean missing our connection from Kenya to Zambia. Houston-we have a problem. After about an hour of talking to the transfer center representatives and even calling the (not going to mention) airline it was quite evident that there were no earlier options and that we would miss our connection flight in Kenya. So battered but not broken we left Amsterdam around 3pm for our 8-hour flight to Nairobi, Kenya.

Midnight in Nairobi

Our experience thus far was beginning to reinforce the reality that we are not in the states any longer. Getting off the plane we were greeted by security personnel who automatically began ushering us into shuttle busses and handed us our boarding passes for our flight tomorrow morning. We were then taken to immigration center where we were asked to go through customs. Worried and very confused, at that point Steve S. began to explain that we had a 7am flight and that we would prefer not to leave the airport due to the yellow fever sensitivity. If we were to leave the airport, Zambia’s immigration may possibly refuse visas into the country. I’m glad to say we were taken back to the airport but suffered for the next 8 hours trying to get some rest on hard, blue, metal chairs. Once 6:50am hit, we jumped to the gate eagerly ready to finally get on our last flight. And then we get the call… the call that this flight was to be delayed. While the plane was ready the pilot was no where to be found. At this point, being numb to the news all we could do was laugh.

Nairobi to Lusaka

The rest of the experience could be described as almost getting on the wrong plane and ending up in Rwanda followed by taking the route that took us to Zimbabwe before Zambia, which also threw us for a loop.

Arriving in Lusaka

It took a total of 41 hours to get from Minneapolis to Lusaka with our unexpected delays. It was hard to believe we had arrived in Lusaka. We were struck with one last pang as we realized that none of our luggage arrived. After a few hours talking with airline officials we were able to determine that it was arriving later that evening.

Reflections on the travel

It was a very tiring time for the team as we dealt with blow after blow of bad news. But the Lord was with us as I watched my teammates graciously take the news without grumbling, and trust that we were in God’s hands. It is so comforting trusting the Lord because we know that every delay and setback brought us right were we needed to be. We learned to sleep creatively, laugh at our misfortune and drew closer together as a team. We are here now and our experience has been great so far. The people are warm, the camp is beautiful, and we are so thankful that God has given us another opportunity to trust in him and has once again shown himself to be faithful.

-Rosa

Travel Itinerary

Itinerary for Zambia Trip

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV)

The time has come for us to depart.  We would first like to thank everyone who has made this trip possible with their giving and prayer.  We could not have made it to this moment without your support.  Now as we depart we ask for continued prayer for us as well as the people.  Our desire is to serve in a manner that reflects our great God.  We understand that two weeks is not a long time, and in our own strength we would not be able to do anything with a lasting significance.  However, we also know that we serve an amazing God, and with his help this trip has the potential to have an eternal impact on the lives of the people we work with.

So we ask, pray for an eternal impact.  Pray that God strengthens us as we travel.  Pray that God blesses our workshops with the three churches.  Pray that God uses us to encouraged the Action Zambia team.  Pray that we would serve in a way that demonstrates we are not relying on ourselves, but are serving with the strength that God supplies.  Because to him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen

-Leo

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Last Team Meeting

It was an exciting yet hesitant Saturday morning as the team members rolled in to the Stein residence one by one. At this point we can recognize one another’s cars and know if we’re the last to arrive. Walking in the house we were greeted with piles of suitcases as well as excited team members. We exchange nervous smiles as we think to ourselves, “I can’t believe the next time I see you it will be on a plane.”

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So herein our day went. We ran through the workshops one last time, weighed and packed about 20 suitcases and to top it all off prepared and shared a tasty Zambian meal together. We had a traditional dish, which is Nshima with relish. Nshima is made from cornmeal and has the consistency of cream of wheat that has cooled however, it is served hot. Nshima is often served with relishes that are usually vegetable or meat in a soupy sauce. The relishes are cooked separate and then served with Nshima. You use your right hand to pull and roll a piece of Nshima then use it as a spoon to dip or scoop the relish. No utensils needed!

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Emotions are heightened at this point and our focus has narrowed since we first began meeting in early March of this year. And of course as much as we would have liked to plan for everything, we did have to make a few changes along the way. As of recent we had the Lord lead our dear team members, Justin and Sarah Williams, in the direction of adoption that coincided with the dates of our trip, so unfortunately they will not be able to serve with us in Zambia. Our team leader Steve is also in a tough spot with medical uncertainties that may impede him from joining us as well.    It was a bittersweet exchange with the Williams and the pains Steve is feeling are worrisome but it allows us all an opportunity to rely not on our own strength but rather Gods sovereign care in this situation.

As we prepare to leave in the next four days, would like to thank all our dear family and friends who have continually supported us and have gotten us to a point where our trip is fully funded! Please continue to support us through prayers.

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-Rosa