God is good all the time.

Hello from Dubai!

We have had quite the eventful day, and have unfortunately been delayed on our journey back to Minnesota. BUT we do know that God has a plan and is remaining faithful even in the frustration. Here’s what we’ve been through so far since we arrived at the Lusaka airport….

• Scheduled for 9:30 flight out of Zambia

• Got moved to 11:00 flight out of Zambia because of previous day’s delay due to airplane issues

• Got moved BACK to 9:30 flight out of Zambia

• Flight out of Zambia delayed

• Arrived in Dubai with barely enough time to catch the connecting flight

• Arrived at connecting gate to Boston

• All but Sheryl, Steve and Laurie were denied entry

• Go through connections desk two times before any news

• Told we would be leaving via London

• Also tried Italy and splitting us into groups and using different airlines

• Told we would NOT be leaving via London

• Told we would not be leaving until tomorrow

• Waited several hours and given free lunch

• Planned to go to Switzerland, Iceland, and MSP

• Itinerary changed again to Boston and MSP

• Waited for boarding passes and hotel vouchers

• Waited for a bus to the hotel

• Waited for Steve get through the long line to check us into the hotel

And here we are, finally resting after a long long day. We will be taking advantage of this stay by going on a bus tour of Dubai tonight before heading to sleep for another long day of travel tomorrow.

We expect to arrive in Minneapolis late Tuesday night.

We so appreciate your prayers as we continue to navigate the rest of our journey home, and we are so excited to tell you all about our time in Zambia when we see you again!

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Fellowship and Fun

The last three days in Africa were wonderful. Our team took a quick trip to Livingstone to see Victoria Falls and go on a safari. We had an incredible time, and God was so so faithful to us in every detail. We had a wonderful team of drivers who took very good care of us and lovely lodge to stay in that was right on the river.

Victoria Falls is absolutely breathtaking. And to think that the hike we took only showed us HALF of this majestic place. From the overwhelming amount of mist that almost makes it feel like it’s raining upside down to the circular rainbow around knife edge bridge to the roar of the water, this place truly shows the glory of God.

We also went on a dinner cruise on the river and a game drive. We were able to see so many beautiful and strange creatures including elephants, hippos, crocodiles, water buffalo, and zebras. We were even fortunate enough to see two white rhino! There are very few left in Zambia, so this was very special.

We were also able to shop at a market for gifts and souvenirs. Many of us came out with lots of beautiful treasures like homemade drums, chitenge aprons and wooden chess sets.

We are so thankful for this opportunity to spend one together as a team!

Four Days in Photos

Laurie’s handwashing station met under these trees on the lawn. They used a black box and glow lotion in that container to show where germs hide.
Monica’s wound care and Kristen’s nutrition stations met here. This is also where we gathered for our evening sessions and worship times.
Cynthia taught her session on how to do a bed bath at this beautiful amphitheater.
Andrew and I taught our session on repositioning and transfer in this fun little spot. We all had the three missionary kids, the Otts, come to our stations the second time. It was good to be able to show the Zambians that they can have their kids help them!
Sheryl taught the last session on pain management and end of life. She taught the Zambians how to use massage to help with pain.
Andrew was able to share his knowledge about dentistry with all the attendees. They laughed when he said that they should floss every day, but his demonstration was very helpful!
Kristen gave a talk on servanthood and included a foot washing. Her reminder that Jesus came to serve us was powerful and was a great way to spur our attendees to take what they have learned home with them and use it to serve him.
Zambian sunsets are short but very beautiful. We ate our evening meals while watching the sun go down.
They absolutely LOVED receiving their certificates and gift bags. For some, this is the only proof of accomplishment they have ever had. Many even danced down the aisle when their name was called. It was so fun to see such big smiles on their faces.
We had to tell people many times to remember to be gentle as they helped their patients. When I was given a chance to help stir the nshima for lunch, I learned why. Zambian women have to be incredibly strong to stir big pots of this maize based staple food.

This is the wonderful group of interpreters and helpers we had the chance to work with this week. As you can see, it was so fun to have them serve alongside us!
The last four days have flown by, but it has been such a joy to see God’s faithfulness as we did our work here. Now, we rest and prepare for our early departure to Livingstone in the morning!

First Round of Health Care Workshops Complete

After a closing graduation ceremony, group picture and many heart-felt hand shakes, we said “good-bye” to our first group of Health Care Workshop students, and saw them off on their busses.  It was a great day and a half of teaching, worshiping, praying and eating together.  The 53 workshop students in the first group arrived by bus Monday morning at 9:00, and after a time of tea, we sang a few worship songs together and the students were divided into 6 groups and assigned to their first workshop station.  The 6 stations include:

  1. Hand Washing and Sanitation taught by Laurie Walmsley
  2. First Aid and Wound Care taught by Monica Stoesz
  3. Nutrition and Hydration taught by Kristin Dearth
  4. Bed Bath and Bedding Change taught by Cynthia Francis
  5. Transfer and Positioning taught by Andrew and Rachel Kawasaki
  6. Pain Management and End of Life taught by Sheryl Conroy

Each station also included a translator, and in most cases, an assistant to help with demonstrating the information.  All our translators and assistants are Zambian believers who we have grown to appreciate and love for their desire to help their fellow Zambians understand our health care information in ways that are meaningful and applicable in their specific context.  Each station’s presentation starts and ends with a Biblical reference that applies a command from Scripture to serving others well, and serving in the strength that God supplies for his glory.  Being the one team member that is not active teaching a workshop station, I’m free to roam around and observe each station in addition to coordinating the workshop activities throughout the session.  All of the team teachers do their stations with informed skill and a heart to give these Zambian brothers and sisters the most helpful information they can to care well for those in their community who are suffering health related issues from simple cuts to their last breaths of life.  It is so encouraging to see our teachers teach with enthusiasm, and the students eagerly drinking it all in and asking such good questions to be sure they can deliver care well.  After each station completes, the groups rotate to the next station.  They completed two stations in the morning, and two more after lunch and then a break to rest before Andrew, our dental student, does a pre-dinner session on Oral Hygiene.  After dinner, we have an evening of worship and challenges from the Word.  Kristin brought a challenge to “go low” in serving others in the many difficult areas of health care, as Christ did in service and by example when he washed the disciples feet.  Then Glen Ripley, the founder of Action Zambia who is also here from the States, gave a challenge from 2 Corinthians 4 to not loose heart in serving.  This morning after tea, the students finished their final two stations and we enjoyed a last lunch with them before their graduation ceremony with a Certificate of Completion, hearty “congratulation” handshakes, and a gift bag including summary notes from the stations, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, and a Gospel Primer Prose booklet.  We wish them well, and pray for the Holy Spirit to keep them encouraged in their work as the hands and feet of Christ in their communities.

After an afternoon and evening of recharging our physical batteries, we will welcome our second session of students tomorrow morning at 9:00.  Pray for our work here, that we would speak and act in ways that will teach and encourage in this critical area of health care.  Thank you for your partnership with us!

– Steve Walmsley

How big is our God? Bigger!

Today’s main events were visiting a local church pastored by Cosmas, an ACTION Zambia staff member, shopping at a craft market, and running through our sessions on site with our translators for the first time.

We were given the royal treatment at Cosmas’ church, and were escorted into the sanctuary before being seated right in the front. We were introduced and given a warm welcome by everyone in attendance.

Their worship was very different than anything I have experienced, with lots of loud and repetitive songs led by a choir. Some songs were in English, and some were in the local languages. The most defining aspect of Zambia worship was DANCE. There was dancing up front, dancing in the rows, and dancing up and down the center aisle. And their dancing is so very full of joy.

One of the songs they did in English (which also happened to have my favorite dance move) asked the question, “How big is our God?” and answered with “BIGGER BIGGER!”. To hear this proclamation from people we know are going through such hugely difficult trials was such a blessing and to see the joy on their faces and in their bodies as they danced was very moving.

Cosmas, the pastor, then presented us with a message on the mystery of the gospel. What a blessing to hear the gospel preached so boldly and enthusiastically here in Zambia. Cosmas preached in English and had a translator, which was a wonderful learning experience for those of us who have never used a translator before. Andrew and I have the blessing of having Cosmas as our translator as well!

Tomorrow, the first students arrive and we begin our workshops! In our exhaustion and lack of certainty for how the day will go, we are so so glad that we have a God we will ALWAYS know is BIGGER!

Walking Miracles

Our team had the wonderful privilege and blessing to go on some home visits in a nearby compound called George. This gave us a better idea of the living situations that most of the people who will be attending our workshops are coming from. We were guided by some Action Zambia staff and local church volunteers who also provided context and translation where necessary.

Our group visited a large variety of people who are served by the local churches including a teenage boy, a couple who face the challenges of HIV every day as the wife is HIV positive and the husband and children are HIV negative, an HIV positive woman who has been stigmatized by her children, a young woman who has suffered a stroke, an HIV positive woman who has used her story to lead many to the gospel, and more.

Andrew and I were able to join Etta, a long time Action Zambia staff and two other local women to meet a teenage boy and Diana, the woman who is passionate about spreading the gospel using her HIV story. We so were humbled by their hospitality and their desire to hear spiritual encouragement from us.

As we spoke to Diana, I had what will probably be one of the most transformative moments of this trip for me. As she spoke about her miraculous recovery from near death once she began the second line of anti HIV meds, I began to see her as a living miracle. Even knowing better, it is hard not to look at an HIV positive person and not see their disease first. However, in this moment, God showed me how he sees Diana. She has survived with HIV since the 1990s, and has been on medication for 14 years. She has chosen to resist the temptation to hide and ignore her diagnosis and has opened up to countless people to help them have access to the same healthcare she has. She volunteers at a local clinic, helping to provide care to the thousands of people that may only have access to one doctor at a time. And most miraculous, she has such a drive to share the gospel, given to her as a gift through the hope and joy she has in God’s promises.

We are living among actual walking miracles, and I and the rest of the team are so so blessed to be here.

Home Sweet Zambian Home

Our team has arrived at our destination and is starting to get settled here at Camp Ciyanjano for our first night in Zambia. All but two bags arrived safely with us, however the lost two were located in Dubai and will be joining us tomorrow. Praise God for his grace in safe and smooth travels.

Off our final plane and finally on Zambian soil.
We’re in Africa!

Andrew and I (Rachel) are really loving Zambia so far. The weather here is absolutely perfect. Sunny, warm, and dry during the day and cool in the evening. Everyone we have met so far has been so incredibly kind and I cannot wait to start to get to know the people who we will be working alongside at the camp. It is already so apparent that while culture changes between place to place, we really all are so very alike.

We also got to take a beautiful and fascinating scenic drive from the airport to the camp. Kelly, an ACTION Zambia missionary drove Steve, Laurie, Andrew, and I and told us lots of interesting stories along the way. We saw many kids out playing, teenagers walking and taking videos, churches, schools, local shops, and a huge garbage dump and cemetery (which in combination with the sunset was surprisingly beautiful — God can really make everything beautiful in his own mysterious way).

Our first African sunset, making even the biggest garbage dump I’ve ever seen look beautiful.

For those who have lived here or visited before, this has been a joyful return. For those of us who are here for the first time, it has been a warm and welcoming experience.