Mission Trip Journal

Hey everyone. This is just a little background information in case you just started reading my diaries. Last summer I went on a mission trip (for 6 weeks) to Zambia, Africa with the National Association for the Prevention of Starvation (NAPS). It’s a mission group that is based in my Biology department. Whenever we can get a doctor or nurse to come with us, we provide medical care, but if not, like on the mission I’m talking about, we just focus on ministry and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. About 26 of us went, but we were broken up into smaller groups and spaced out across Zambia. I was stationed in one of the United Nation’s refugee camps. These refugee camps housed Angolans who left their homes when a civil war broke out. Many of the refugees were part of the resistance, so many of them were missing limbs. Anyway, Angolans speak Portuguese and they are pretty nice people. It was my first mission, and actually my first time going to Europe and Africa, so you’ll notice my amazement at everything. If there are some things in my journal that I know would confuse you if you weren’t there, I’ll explain further in bolded brackets like this: [………..] .
I didn’t really keep a journal in the beginning, so this is a summary of what has happened so far in this Zambia/Refugee Camp mission.

We loaded all the bins on the buses and set out for the airport [in Huntsville, AL]. I already kissed my parents good bye. After unloading all the bins, the security checkpoint people began to go through all the bins. We were told to stop because our flight was cancelled due to bad weather in Dallas. That was very disappointing but Justin [a senior NAPS member] pointed out that this would be a great mission because Satan was hitting us early. We spent the night at Doc’s [Dr. Paul, the chair of our Biology department and the president of NAPS. We all call him Doc though.] house and our flight left early in the morning. The blessing is that because we already had all the bins at the airport when our flight was cancelled, they let us keep them at the airport overnight, meaning that no bins were weighed. This was a serious blessing because we would have had to pay over $5,000 in overweight luggage had they weighed them [Whenever NAPS goes on a mission (whether it be for 6 weeks or a year), everything each person personally needs should fit in their hiking bag. Everything else we bring is put in numerous bins. Items we put in bins include generators, bibles, peanut butter, food materials, chain saws, evangelistic material, items for the children’s program, etc. We pack all this stuff in about 60 bins and put them on the plane. Usually these bins weigh much more than the allotted weight, and we have to pay extra to put them on the plane, but the Lord used the cancellation of our flight to save us money; money that could be used to buy more useful things in Africa.]

We left Huntsville for Dallas. At Dallas, my group flew to Chicago en route to London (Heathrow). People were interested in what we were doing [They saw our NAPS uniforms] and it was a blessing telling them about our mission. The other group flew into London (Gatwick), and they took a train over to our airport. We had a 12 hour layover at Heathrow which was spent worrying about where Courtney was and where our bins were; we should have rested knowing God was in control [First the story about our bins. Huntsville is a small airport with small planes. Apparently, they couldn’t fit all of our bins on our plane, so they had to send half of them on another plane. Well, the other half didn’t get to Dallas in time for our flight to London, so half of them were delayed in the U.S. This was stressing, because we really couldn’t complete the mission without all the bins. So during this 12 hour layover, we are trying to find the status of those bins, hoping they would get to London in time for our flight to Kenya. Now the story about Courtney. Courtney is a NAPS member who was going with us to Africa. The week before we left for Africa, when we first started taking our malaria pills, she had an adverse reaction to the pills and had to be rushed to the hospital. This was very troubling because we would have to take a malaria pill every week while we were there in Africa. So Doc told her that she wouldn’t be able to go because it might be too dangerous for her to have another reaction to the drug, especially because we won’t be near to any hospital. Well she took that pretty hard, but we left for Africa anyway. During our layover in London, we get a call from the NAPS director in our U.S. NAPS office, and we are told that the doctors cleared Courtney for the trip; and that somehow, she bought a same day ticket to Africa for about $5,000 and is headed to London as they speak. Well, this was also very troubling, first because Doc had not authorized her to come, and second because no one knew what flight she was coming into and whether she would make it to London before we left for Kenya. So also, during this time, we are running around the airport trying to determine which airport she’s flying into (Heathrow or Gatwick), and what flight she came in on. So yeah, we didn’t get too much rest during this time.] Everything was super expensive in the airport, especially because the pound was worth more than the dollar. Seemingly all at one time, we found Courtney and our bins were found.

Next we flew to Nairobi, Kenya. While we were still in the air, I was looking out the window and I saw something very odd. We were flying above all the clouds, and all I saw was blue sky at the top and white clouds on the bottom of me. But not too far, I saw a humongous, dark, cone shaped object jutting up from the clouds. I asked a flight attendant what that was, and she told me that it was Mount Kilimanjaro (I think its one of the tallest mountains in the world). You really realized how tall the thing was when you saw it sticking out from the clouds. Anyway, it felt so good to finally be in Africa. At the airport we met two young (white) missionaries who were coming back from a mission and we had worship with them. Next we flew to Lusaka, Zambia. We unloaded and realized we were missing about 5 bins and some drums. We came out the airport and a skit was performed by a group of people that were supposed to be meeting us. The skit stressed how we should give, and come back to our motherland. One thing that surprised me was the fact that we were in a city, in Africa [All I had ever seen of Africa was on National Geographic when they showed the bush and the animals]. The roads were good, there were stores, buildings, etc.; no grass houses (In fact, if I had been blind folded and brought to Lusaka, I could have easily mistaken the place for an American city). We stayed at Cynthia’s house and had a good meal. Mostly, if you have a house in the city of Africa, you have a huge wall surrounding it, I guess due to the crime. I got a chance to meet my Zambian NAPS friends, Kennedy, Boston, Kabu Kabu Vera, Rose, and others. They gave me my Losi [a dialect spoken there] name, Mutanga, which means servant. I got the chance to stay at Ombati Mwencha’s house also. His father was the Secretary General for over 21 African countries. He had to be approved by the President’s of 21 countries before he could have his post; so needless to say, Ombati was basically RICH, but he was very humble and not spoiled which I respect. His house was so beautiful but his driveway (like many local roads) was HORRIBLE. If you live in New York and think your potholes are bad, come to Africa. The main roads were fine, but when you turned off into a community nothing was paved and at one time we were riding on the road at 45 degrees!!!

Next we left for Zam Seed, which was a huge farm owned by a Seventh-day Adventist Zambian. He allowed us to stay in a little farm house for a couple of days. While there, we got a taste of what being on a mission was like. The kids there LOVED to sing and it was just such a blessing to hear them. We left for the refugee camps and sent those on the Mongu mission on their way [ not all of us when to the refugee camps. There were about 26 of us, and we split into 4 groups, some going to the refugee camps and some running missions in other parts of Zambia.]. We drove for like FOREVER (about 18 hours) and then pulled into Livingston. The Lord is good, we got a chance to go to Victoria’s Falls (one of the 7 wonders of the world). It was by far the most magnificent thing I’ve ever seen in my life. The sheer power of the falls spoke of its creator. We all got soaked and I bought some souvenirs. The people running the mission in Chomo departed from there and we continued on to the refugee camps. The Lord is so good; to get to our destination, we had to cross the Zambezi River (the river that feeds Victoria Falls). Now normally, this is an almost impossible task, especially since the Zambezi was flooded, but praise God, they (just about 3 days earlier) opened up a brand new bridge across the Zambezi. That was one obstacle, the next was the road ahead. Doc had just received news that the road ahead of us was impassible, so we stopped for a bathroom break. Ten seconds later, Doc ran into the MP’s brother, and it was clear that that wasn’t a coincidence [the MP was the head official over the refugee camps. His brother was on his way there also, and just happened to run into us]. He assured Doc that the road was passable. So we went through town with the band and stayed the night. We set off in the morning and realized that although the road was passable, it was still quite horrible; and the funny thing was that is was one of their major highways. None of it was paved, and the sand practically caved in on us in certain places. After ten hours we reached the camp. Everyone was so happy to see us. There were so MANY kids.

Our camp had been prepared by Derrick [a Zambian NAPS member who had been at the refugee camp for awhile preparing the place for us.] and the local people. I went with Lackica [America NAPS] and Miato [Zambian NAPS] to get water at the water pump. The people there were so humble and kind. The water pump for the refugee camp shuts off at a certain time. Everyone was trying to get water to feed their families, but they moved their water buckets out of the way so we could get water. And then they wouldn’t’ even let us pump the water, they pumped it for us. Even though none of them were Christians, I saw true Christianity right there. We were there for a couple of days, and things were going great, but then I got sick. My stomach started to grumble during the night meeting and after that I threw up everything I had ever eaten in my life. I threw up 3 times that night and Doc gave me some charcoal to drink so I could get better. I guess I’m kind of a city boy, but when I get sick, usually I take pills. I had never taken charcoal to get better, but that bad boy is a crazy absorbent, and it like sucked the sickness out of me. I threw up again, this time it was all black. I also crapped and it was all black. Technically I was getting better, but I wasn’t feeling better. The next day, the group I was in moved to the other refugee camp. (From this point on, I’ll consistently keep journal).

I threw up all day yesterday, but this morning I felt much better. I packed for my refugee camp, still feeling queasy in my stomach. The people here are so nice, and so humble. I had a good devotion; today I read 1 Corinthians 9. Packing the van was hard for me because I was still very weak but Ernest and John helped me out. Our camp site is beautiful. The people here have worked so hard to prepare our church/compound, the least we can do is give them the Word of God. The evangelistic meeting went great also.

Today I got a chance to actually help someone. The people here are always putting our water buckets in front of theirs, even though the water cuts off at a certain time. They did it again today, but after my bucket was filled, I began to pump and fill their buckets. It felt so good!!! We were running low on gas and suddenly a truck pulled up with a note from Doc [he stayed at the other refugee camp with was about 5 miles away] calling us back to the main camp. It was so cool riding on the back of the truck, I felt like a real safari man. We played in the band there. So many kids came out that the sand was practically suffocating. In my mind I felt like I was presenting these souls to God (that’s the only way I could take my mind off of the pain of carrying the bass drum for that long period of time). I tend to be a little pessimistic, but the people are so thirsty for the Word! I praise God for that.

The Lord is good! I love Him so much. Today, I stayed back while the others were doing visitations around the refugee camp. I had a chance to really get in the Word. I started to sense inklings of home sickness but when I busied myself it went away. I had a chance to help with the Bible study today. It felt so good to finally give back spiritually. I can’t wait for Baptism day.

Today was pretty interesting. We got a chance to visit the school in the camp. I got a chance to go to a Biology class that was taking place. They were learning about the ocean currents and everything aquatic. It was very cool to see how science classes work in foreign countries. Also, some of the church ladies came and washed our clothes. I don’t know how they did it, because there’s no electricity out there, so they couldn’t toss it in a washer/dryer or iron it; but it came back clean and ironed. The culture here is different. When women need to feed their babies, they just whip out their breast wherever they are. Breast aren’t sexual things here, but you’ll never find a woman with a short dress here. The Bible study today was good. There were many questions about the Sabbath. The Adventists here seem to deal with the same issues that those in America deal with. Like working on the Sabbath, sports, etc. The kid problem at the evangelistic meeting is getting bad [Many of them have never seem a projector screen, so they kids crowd the front and they are really loud. It was taking too much to get them to sit down]. We will have to raise the screen so the kids will stop pushing to see.

Today was eventful. We went to the school, but they didn’t have Biology class that day, just general science. Everyone spoke Portuguese there so I really couldn’t understand anything. The elders built the elevated screen today and it turned out to work perfectly. The Bible study today was good; the Lord really used me, Derrick, and Ombati. Today there was an encounter with a demon possessed girl. But praise God, after much singing and prayer, she was delivered. Too bad I was sleeping the whole time. I guess the Lord was teaching me to always be alert cause you never know what could happen.

We had a late wake up today (around 8 a.m.), so I got some extra sleep [Usually we wake up around 5 in the morning. The people in Africa really seem to respect people that wake up early, rather than most Americans who don’t get started with their day till about 9 a.m.]. It was so cool; some kids marched to our camp singing and praising God’s name. They waited for us, and led us to the church. Moses’ [an American NAPS member] sermon was on point that day. He spoke on the rich man story (you know, the one where the rich man approached Jesus and asked him what he must do to get to heaven). After church, we had to shake EVERYONE’s hand ( I guess everyone there wanted to meet the American’s who had come so far help). Anyway, I was screaming for Purrell after that little hand shaking session. Today was just a peaceful day. At sun set, we showed Lion King to the kids [It was the Portuguese version], so many people came out; the most ever actually. Its amazing how the Lord works. By showing the Lion King video, and so my people came to see that, we got a chance to invite much more people to our evangelistic meetings; especially since our next sermon was on the Sabbath!!! Praise God!!!

Today was quite eventful. Darla and I worked on the English classes material today [We spent a lot of time teaching them about God, but we also decided to teach them English, because they really seemed like they wanted to know]. But before that, during morning worship, a truck pulled with Michelle, Tory, and my princess, Brittany [NAPS members from the other refugee camp]. They brought us much needed supplies. It was just so good seeing Brittany again. Tory also gave me an African knife that he had bought, and I was trying to cut everything! The evangelistic meeting tonight was on the Sabbath and the devil really showed himself today. First off, it isn’t rainy season, and when it isn’t rainy season in Zambia, it literally doesn’t rain; not at all. Lo’ and behold, at 4:00 p.m. [a hour before the sermon on the Sabbath started], it began to drizzle. We knew it was Satan, so we prayed. But God was also working. Tory and Andy came a second time to give us the backup laptop and Doc’s video camera; this was a blessing because (at the time), I didn’t know I needed to cover the wires on the light bulbs before it started raining. If I had left it, it might have shorted out all of our equipment. But because Tory and Andy had just pulled up, they gave me the right advice and gave me the help I needed to cover them quickly. The rain subsided, and we began our praying. About 30 minutes into the program, before the sermon, the generator stopping generating; for the 1st time ever. When I checked it, the generator was still running, but no power was coming out. Me thinking I’m Mr. Fix-It, ran back and got my tools, determined that I was going to fix it. After about 20 minutes of failure, I did what I should have done in the beginning; I prayed. I pulled the cord on the generator once, and it kicked up; talk about the power of prayer!!! There were so many people present to hear the message on the Sabbath, many newcomers too. The rain began to pour sporadically; I guess Satan was trying to widdle at the crowd. Then, the generator ran out of gas, which has never has never happened before either [Usually it ran the full length of the program with gas still left over]. Despite the devil’s workings, the meeting continued and many were blessed.

Today was quite packed in events. I actually played soccer with the kids today. It was really fun but it was tiring [I really have no idea how to play soccer, but if you really want to break down some walls in a foreign country, bring a soccer ball.]. Derrick, Ombati, and I worked on the Sabbath Bible study and the Lord really blessed with the planning of it. At first, I dreaded beginning the English classes, but it turned out to be very fun. It was funny seeing them trying to pronounce the numbers and colors [For some reason, that all had a really hard time pronouncing purple]. But many of them learned, which was good. When we actually had the Bible study, I knew that the Lord was using me. I really praise God for the Sabbath Bible study. Many came to an understanding of the Sabbath and why many people worship on Sunday. The evangelistic meeting went on that night without any problems, even though we preached on the State of the Dead. Tonight, the Lord gave me the opportunity to help cast out a demon from another possessed girl. Mondu’s (the girl) body was so heavy, and she sounded like her lungs were being sat on. We prayed a lot and sang hymns, and every time she jerked another demon left her. She was seriously possessed so we were there most of the night casting the demons out, but after awhile they were all gone. Praise God!!!

We had liquid shima again today; and wasn’t too bad [Shima is a local favorite here. It is actually ground up corn husk. It has absolutely no nutritional value, but the people here eat it just to feel full. Its really sad.].I finished my “10 things I love about Mukwayi” [A little poem I was writing for Brittany during my down time. Mukwayi is her Losi name. It means princess]book and then I planned for the State of the Dead Bible study. Tory came and surprised Darla for her birthday [they are dating too, but while we are on missions we usually voluntarily go to separate camps in order to keep our minds on the mission.] He walked about an hour and fifteen minutes to get here from the other refugee camp. The English class was great today; the people learned how to greet each other in English. The Bible study went well today also. I got Mondu’s testimony of being delivered on video, and also another testimony of a man who seemed to have been stricken with the same demon. Right before the meeting, Mondu collapsed, and started foaming at the mouth. There were still some demons inside her, which was very puzzling. We soon realized that voodoo worship was taking place in her house, so whenever demons were cast out, they would came back once she got home. It was a sad situation. Moses made the baptism appeal and 58 people came up to the front. Praise God!!!

Today we visited this couple in the camp. You could tell that they had been well off before the war. But now they had to run away. The husband had been a dentist and the wife was a nurse in the maternity ward in Angola. They were so nice, but were telling us that they had no work here and there was nothing to do. We got word that our first baptism is Sunday, and I can’t wait!!! We also got word that at first, the other church denominations in the camp were threatening excommunication if their members attended our evangelistic meetings. But now, they’ve all come together and sent all their kids to our meetings just to make noise and distract. I thought that was below all churches; I guess not. But the Lord’s work will continue, and more decided to get baptized today. Amen!

This morning, we went visiting around the camp. it was cool, kinda just saying hi to everyone. I was lying in my tent later thinking about Brittany when a note from her arrived. It feels so good to be loved. I had a good talk with Ombati and Derrick; we were talking about black mambas and other deadly animals in Africa. The English class went very well today. We had a lot of young kids. The Bible study went well also. I know the Lord is using me to do His work; at least in this place. Ten more people decided to get baptized today, which brings the total to around 89. The baptism will be on Sunday at 1 p.m. We have to walk to Nangweshe in order to do the baptism. It’ll be so tight!!!

Today was baptism day!!! At 9 a.m., all the baptism people and their family and friends arrived at our compound. We pulled out at 9:45 with everyone. The choir was leading us out as we walked to the Nangweshe refugee camp. The walk taught me so many lessons. The helpfulness of the people was amazing. Even though they had stuff to carry, they wanted to carry our book bags. I kept mine because I wanted a good work out. Also, many of the guys with prosthetics (from having limbs blown off during the war), were also making that 1 ½ hour walk. Many of them were moving faster than people that had two legs. On the way, one of the kids stubbed his toe on a tree stump that was hidden by the deep sand. He toe was bleeding pretty bad by the time I came up on him. I bent down, and took out my First Aid kit. I cleaned his wound and put a Band-Aid on it; he smiled, thanked me in Portuguese and ran off. I felt like a true doctor then and there. I felt like the Lord was telling me that that is the true job of a doctor; to help someone in pain and to see that smile when they feel better. As we rolled into Nangweshe about 130 deep, we were singing and praising God. It was a wonderful experience. Brittany ran out to meet me, and it was so good to see her again. I really love that girl. After about an hour or so, we set off for the Zambezi river [We brought our baptism candidates to the other refugee camp and met the other camps baptismal candidates. Then we all walked to the Zambezi river where the baptism would take place.] which happened to be another 50 minute walk ( I truly understand now why you hardly see any fat Africans). The people practically ran the whole time; I couldn’t keep up with them. On the way a horrible thing happened. A mother tripped and fell with her baby and her baby hit his head on the concrete; his head was bleeding. I felt so helpless without my first aid kit (I put it in the van). The baby wasn’t hurt too bad though, and someone else came and nursed its wounds. The baptism was so beautiful. The Zambezi was glistening and so many people were lined up to be baptized. The smile on their faces when they came out of the water was just wonderful!!! I think 140 were baptized that day. We ate back at the camp, then walked back to my refugee camp, which was another 1 ½ hour walk. We showed the Ten Commandments video but the generator was having problems. At first it wouldn’t start, so we prayed and it started, then it kept jumping like it would turn off. We prayed again and it ran fine after that. The Lord showed me through this how my faith has increased. He showed me that no problem is too small for Him, and I jut have to have faith and believe He will take care of it.

Today I heard news that was very troubling. One of the guys that had been baptized (into the Adventist church) on Sunday was beaten when he got back home. He was beaten by three men from his previous church, the Catholic church. The encouraging part is that he is still sticking with the faith. Also, tonight Moses made an appeal, and Mondu, the girl who had been demon possessed came up!!! This is such a blessing because the first time we talked about baptism, she received another demonic attack. She was foaming at the mouth and everything. Because of that, she didn’t hear the baptism message. But now, she has decided to give her life to Jesus Christ. Praise God!!! I think the total baptized in Africa was 803 (this includes those baptized from the other missions that were simultaneously taking place.)

I didn’t take any journals after this day, but nothing really happened after that. We planned a march in the capital city, Lusaka; a march against AIDS. Every school in Lusaka closed down, and the kids marched with us. After that, we hugged and cried with our Zambian friends and flew back to America. Three days later, I started my research at the University of Cincinnati, which is where my SDN journals first started off.

The journal I wrote in Africa was not written with the idea that other people would be reading it. So I understand that some parts my not be very clear, so just leave me a comment if you want clarification on something. I hope this journal has encouraged you all to sacrifice some of your time to do mission work. Some pictures are below:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *