Forgotten Voices' Mission:

"Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Real Adventure: Kids, Alligator, and an engine without oil under my seat.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Real Adventure: Kids, Alligator, and an engine without oil under my seat.

After 9 hours of sleep (I've been soooo exhausted here - far hotter here & out in sun much more), I woke up to some great devotional time with Joshua (chapters 1-5), where God leads Joshua and the Isrealites to the base of the wall of Jericho, which falls in Chapter 6. Wanting more of the story, I had to stop at the end of chapter 5 for 2 reasons (1) that's what the reading plan I'm doing said, but more importantly (2) I was late. Who out there is shocked?

Anyway - after leaving Joshua just before his crew took down Jericho, we were greeted by Harry, who drove his church van to Remmy's house to collect us. The plan was to spend 4ish hours with Harry, viewing some projects he was connected with as a pastor and graduate of TCCA, a seminary Forgotten Voices partners with here in Ndola.

Meet Harry: 35 yrs old, Pastor, husband, and father of 3 boys (5, 3, and 6 months old).

We haven't helped Pastor Harry's ministry yet, but Remmy is exploring how we can best fit in or if we should at all. I love having eyes and ears on the ground like Remmy's. What a great guy! Pray for him and his wife, Irene, as they serve with us.

Harry, Remmy, and I first went and visited one of Harry's church's newest projects: a seedling farm. The Lubuto Baptist Church recently bought some land from the City Councilor after the city opened up some land for development, just near the border of a community called Mushili. On this land, they are growing plants beyond the seed phase to the seedling phase: big enough to grow, but still in the early stages of growth. This initial stage of seed to seedling is highly risky for local farmers. Given a person's often limited land space, they need all the seeds to grow to a reasonable level. When they don't grow properly, they often don't have enough food to eat themselves, let alone sell. The church came up with an idea to help reduce the risk to the community farmers.

Farmers, for just above a seed price, can buy a more mature seedling from the church, then take it home for planting in their home garden. This way, the farmer has a higher chance that the crop will grow properly, the church has helped the community, and the funds raised help take care of the land...which happens to be big enough for the church to have a higher error rate and watch some of the seeds fail to grow.

Genius. :) I love how the church, regardless of where it is in the world, is always trying to figure out how to help their community. While certainly there are some churches that aren't doing so, there are always people in those churches that are. This fact always amazes me and humbles me -- our God is soooo cool!

Anyway - just as we were leaving, I saw my first transaction between Harry and a local boy (pictured above), buying some items for his dad's home farm. It was a warm feeling.

After the farm, we went and visited a building the church recently bought from a 7th Day Adventist Church, then Harry's church turned the building into a community school, as kids in the area were walking far too long for small kids. It looked like a desserted area that hadn't received much/any attention from the government in quite some time.

The wife of the teacher from the school gave us some cabbage and greenpeppers from her garden. YUMMY!

Then, we played with some kids at a nearby tailoring training center, similar to the one Christian's church is just beginning. Instead of 3 days a week, the one connected to Harry only meets on Tuesday afternoons and sometimes Fridays. While all that was interesting, our time with Harry wrapped up with me getting to do what I LOVE to do above most other things: Play with kids!

While Harry went off to buy charcoal from a local farmer, I started a rousing game of catch the flying ball, where I toss the ball as high as I can and then give points to the kid(s) that catch it each time. It goes on and on until I need to stop out of exhaustion. Well, the charcoal negotiations took a long-time so I got to start a game similar to duck-duck-goose. I happily gunned down from across the circle the small boy who dared to pick on me, thinking I was too old to win the game. :) For about 20 min, as the game continued, each kid came and took a turn of about 1 min each sitting next to me, touching my white hand, then going back to their seat in the circle. This is a usual occurence. :) Not a lot of white folks like me sitting around their game circles in their "neighborhood" out in the rural areas.

As we drove off with 4 bags of charcoal, I tossed the ball high into the air, sending about 25 kids screaming for joy. What fun you can have with a small blue ball made up of plastic bags we Americans would toss away after a visit to CVS.

Here's the long road we took to get to the kids.

Well - I won't bore you with too many other details. But 2 more quick moments are noteworthy:

1) about 16 kilometers away from Remmy's house, we ran out of oil for the car, whose engine was immediately below my rear-end. It's one of those flat front vans, with an engine you sit on. Anyway - after several mobile phone calls, arranging with a guy on a motorbike to come get us, then having that guy not come (due to finding a dying alligator in the yard), and several other friends of Harry's passing us by, but not helping us because the motor bike guy was coming (or so we thought), Harry finally jumped into a car with a friend and came back about 2 hrs later (lines at the oil shop and vans/bus service out to where we were at was erratic). I took a nice nap during the delay, so it wasn't too bad.

While we were waiting for the motor bike guy to come, I taught Remmy & Harry about the Alphabet game, where you say something like, "I'm going on a camping trip, and I'll bring Appricots, Bread, and so on, with each person in the circle adding another item to the list, continuing on in the alphabet. The trick is you have to start each turn from the beginning with A and you continue through to Z. At the end, everyone has to say the full list in order to go on the camping trip. :) As English isn't either of their native tongues, they added some Bemba and Tonga words to our camping list, but we had a lot of fun waiting together.

2) So you can't just say something like "a guy found an alligator and decided not to go help his stranded friends" then move on. I don't know all the details of how it happened, but Harry ran into the guy that was on the motor bike when harry finally left for town after we had waited about an hour for the guy to bring us oil. When Harry ran into him, the guy said he had come across an alligator. Harry, being a well-connected and caring pastor, had met a Chinese man just a few days earlier that had been asking him about where he could find an alligator for eating. So, Harry asked the motor bike guy if he could have the alligator. The man agreed, as it looked like the alligator was dying anyway.

By the time we put oil in the car and drove back to retrieve the alligator, it had died. It was crazy to have 4 bags of charcoal, a 4 ft alligator/giant lizard as they also called it, and reciting components for a fantastic camping trip all in one day -- not to mention seeing some incredible ministries led by Harry's church and other ministries in the region.

All in a typical day of adventure here in Africa...all before 2pm.

The evening wrapped up with more UNO (i'm winning!!), a game of rounders (similar to kickball), and some great pasta & meatballs.

To give to Forgotten Voices, so we can help more local churches like Harry's help AIDS oprhans and those that care for them, you can give online at or send a check to Forgotten Voices; PO Box 1368; Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-1368 USA.

Thanks for investing in us, supporting me, and praying for our work & my travels.

Lots of love,
Off to begin a new day,

PS Still not sure how an alligator ended up in some guy's yard...oh well... a mystery that will remain.

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