Zambia Trip Update #12 July 31, 2013

And thus ends our time in Macha…

What an amazing time we’ve had in this community, from clinics to games to service projects.  Every step of the way we’ve been blessed by our brothers and sisters here joining us along the way, and for that we are grateful. Of course, that does make saying goodbye a bit more difficult.  Well worth it though!

Today we were able to spend all morning working around the PTR Zambia house which will be occupied in only 3 weeks by the family that will be moving to Macha to begin working here under PTR.  Since it is a construction site, for one thing there was plenty of trash to pick up.  A few of us worked on that little operation while others, with the great direction of our Zambian ‘boss’ for the day, helped moved big piles of soil to various low spots surrounding the house.  The goal was to  fill in these areas not only so it looks better, but so that when the rains come later in the year, water will run off better.  We had split into two crews for the dirt moving, which worked out well.  One person shoveling, the other person using the wheelbarrow.  After a couple hours, we were told we had done enough.   We were graciously then rewarded with tea time, the standard mid morning break around here.

After break, it was back to work! This time we had lots of bricks to move.  These bricks were all scattered to one side of the yard, leftover from the construction.  Because many of them were still useful, we had to relocate them some where and organized them neatly, not just thrown in big piles as they currently were.   The guys sorted and loaded bricks, and then using the wheelbarrows, took them to the girls.  The girls got creative and with the thousands of bricks, made a cute little ‘fort’ and entrance walkway for the little two year old girl that will soon be living at the house.  What  a creative little blessing that will be.

We were certainly all ready for lunch when that was done.  One of our hosts here at the research facility had invited our group, and some others, to her place for lunch.  Again the hospitality of the people here is humbling.  We all piled into her little house and were treated to quite a meal that certainly took her lots of time to prepare.  We have been so blessed by so many people in our time here.

With our time running out here, we made our last walk then up to the local girls secondary school.  There we enjoyed a fun game of soccer, followed by some exchanging of wristbands, conversations, and then prayer together.  Oh and of course we took a picture together too.  It was a great way to end our time in this community.

We rushed back to make it just in time for dinner.  What we were really excited about though was our little bonfire we had planned afterwards.  We invited a few of our Zambian friends to join us, and we told them we’d teach them all about s’mores.  So we sat around the fire, under the stars, and shared the tasty treats, while exchanging stories from our lives.  We also had our one Zambian brother share his testimony, which was also really special to here.

The theme of the night was how we’ve really bonded with people here, but especially these two men of God who set aside so much of their time to spend it with us.  We ended the night with prayer together, followed shortly thereafter by the hard part….goodbyes.  There were definitely tears shed on our side, and for our Zambian brothers, well, they said they had to say goodbye tonight, not tomorrow, because it’d just be too difficult.

We’ve been so encouraged and blessed by our time here, a lot because of the people.  It is clear that this place is special, and it’s exciting to know that there will be year round PTR work here starting so soon.  We are glad we got to be a part of it!

With that, this will be the last update from Macha!  We are not sure what our internet access will be like in the next few days.  Tomorrow morning we will head back to Livingstone, where we’ll see Victoria Falls and visit a game reserve, before heading to the airport Saturday morning.  If you don’t hear from us, it’s probably safe to assume all is well!  But we’ll try to get an update up.

Thank you again for all your prayers.  We have enjoyed our time here tremendously and are sad to be leaving.  But happy that we’ll see you all so soon.

Good night from Zambia!

The team

Zambia Trip Update #11 July 30, 2013

The wind was blowing like crazy this morning as we woke up, which of course means dust was flying everywhere since it’s dry season here. Temps were pretty cool in the morning, and even the afternoon was really nice, not quite as hot as the last few days…we are definitely not complaining!

We started the day buy jumping in a big flatbed truck and another vehicle to head into Choma, the nearest town.  The project for they day was to load up a bunch of donated household goods to bring back to Macha for the PTR Zambia house which is nearing completion.  If you didn’t know,  the PTR Zambia operation will open ‘full time’ at the end of August when the family from PTR moving to Zambia will arrive. So it was special for us to be able to contribute in this way toward helping prepare the way for their ministry and work herel!  It didn’t take too long as we all worked together, and we were of course joined by our friends Elem and Stembridge(who also is our driver while here!)

Because we thought we deserved it, we stopped in town on the way back to Macha for a quick mid-morning snack. Most of us enjoyed either bakery items or a vanilla ice cream cone!   Quite tasty to say the least.  The ride home was pretty quiet as most slept. As soon as we got back to Macha, we then unloaded all the items into a storage place just a few hundred yards from the home the items will occupy as soon as the final touches are completed on the house.  All reports are it should be completely done by the end of next week.  We were one week too early it seems!  Oh well, getting the items here was a huge help and blessing to PTR Zambia.  We were happy to have the opportunity to serve in this manner.

After lunch we discussed the life of Joseph and what we can learn from his responses to all the trials he endured.  We also heard a testimony from our final team member.  It’s always neat and encouraging to get to hear from each of our teammates as they share their faith story.  It also gives us a chance to know how to better encourage and relate to them!

We then ‘laced up our shoes’ for the half hour walk back out to the field where we ran clinics all last week.  A local team had really wanted to play us, which of course we were more than happy to do!  The game was pretty even and ended 3-3, despite our team leading 3-1 with only a few minutes to go.  After posing for a picture with the other team and saying our thank you’s and goodbye’s, we headed back to the dorm for showers and dinner.

After eating, we did what is hard to believe it’s time to do…we deflated soccer balls and began to pack those things up.  The cool thing is that these items will stay here for the use and ministry of PTR Zambia in the future!  If you would like more information about PTR Zambia, you can visit their website HERE.

Tomorrow is our last full day here…where did the time go!  Thanks for all your continued prayers and support, and for many of you we will see you ‘soon.’

The team

Zambia Trip Update #10 July 29, 2013

One of the great things about this culture is that it is so relationship focused.  It’s important to be seen in the community, it’s important to make the effort to see things and try to learn from the people we may get to meet.  Today offered us a chance to do just that.  The first visit of the day was a short walk down to a local high school where we had played a couple games last week.  Though we had played a couple games there, we hadn’t really spent time at the school, so today the headmaster and deputy head teacher invited us into their office to hear about the history, progress, and problems that they are currently facing.  A huge problem is overcrowding.  It’s crazy to hear of the struggles they have, we should certainly count our blessings in the US, if we don’t already.  The team enjoyed getting a new perspective and had a chance to ask some good questions!  Of course we got to stop in a couple classrooms, which the students LOVED!

After that it was off to the hospital that we’ve been walking by pretty much every day since getting here!  A missionary doctor who has lived here for many years gave us a quick tour of the hospital, as well the HIV/AIDS clinic and malaria research labs.  This hospital was established back in the 1950’s and has been a beacon of hope ever since.  For being so far out in the ‘bush,’ it is a great hospital and many people will pass on closer options and come to this one because of it’s reputation to be compassionate while providing good health care.  I think we all were blown away at the somewhat ‘primitiveness’ of the facility through our ‘western’ glasses.  But it was encouraging to hear how this hospital has succeeded over the years, and their model of using Zambian leadership is brilliant, which is unlike many other mission hospitals in this country that rely heavily on missionaries to run things.

After lunch we hopped in a vehicle for a quick drive to a local orphanage. There are not a lot of orphanages in Zambia because in this culture family takes care of family.  That being said, there are some, this being one!  We enjoyed a quick tour and then some of us played some soccer with the kids while others sat in the shade taking photos, braiding hair, and just chatting.  It was amazing to see all the work happening there, so we were grateful for the chance just to ‘check it out’ and spend some time with the children.

We zipped home in order to change and then walk to our match for the night.  We won 1-0 as many of the team are now feeling like they’ve grown accustomed to the fields(which have no grass and are rock hard) and are finally adjusted to the air here.  Never mind the fact that we also have picked up some awesome Zambian help along the way who’ve been an absolute blessing!  As usual, we had a great little fan club, so any of our team members not on the field were loving the time with the children on the sidelines.  There was time afterwards for plenty of pictures, though by the time the game ended it was pretty much dark.

Dinner was great, again, and afterwards we spent time together discussing the life of Gideon, and how we could learn more about obedience from his story.   We had also heard from another teammate regarding her testimony earlier in the day.  We have one more person to share tomorrow, and then we’ve heard from everyone in our group…plus a few of our Zambian friends!

I guess that about wraps it up!  We will ‘talk’ to you tomorrow!


The team

Registration Now Available for Greater Philadelphia Home School Gym Classes

With summer camps winding down we are looking forward to the start of our home school gym classes beginning in September.  Classes will again be available at Calvary Church in Souderton, and the Christian Learning Center in Perkiomenville.  We have a great staff lined up, and are looking forward to another fun-filled school year.  To find out more about the classes, or to register please click here.

Zambia Trip Update #9 July 28, 2013

Sunday, a day of rest!  We did our best to make today just that after a busy first week here in Zambia.

We walked to church looking forward to the time of worship with our fellow brothers and sisters.  On the walk, one of our team members thought we should sing a ‘special music’ song for the entire congregation.  Keep in mind it is a normal thing for 3, 4, or even 5 different groups to present a song or two each and every Sunday.  The rest of us, though we knew we are called to ‘make a joyful noise unto the Lord,’ thought that it’d be best if we just stuck to soccer and left the singing to those who had the gift of voice.  The song that was mentioned being sung was one of our favorites for the trip, “You are Holy/Prince of Peace.”  Long story short, this team member signed us up to sing.

The service unfolded in normal fashion, a couple groups shared their songs, and then it was time for team PTR.  What happened next will never be forgotten by any of us…and probably not the rest of the church.  Halfway through the song, which was started a little too high for the girls to begin with, was further complicated when one of our team members began singing the wrong verse, throwing the entire group off.  So we stopped and started the song over again, much to the congregation’s entertainment.  Keep in mind that this happens from time to time, but in that it was us, it was an extra spectacle!  We did better the second time and finished the song,  then finding our seats.  Needless to say, everyone in church appreciated our effort, and I think we hammered home the point that PTR is a sports ministry, not a choral one!

We did then enjoy a sermon focused on II Thessalonians 3:6-15, encouraging us to be active in our faith and to avoid idleness of all kinds, except of course rest on the Sabbath.  The pastor also challenged us to make our lives joyful while working and doing whatever we are putting our hands and minds too.  It was a good reminder for all of us, whether we are students or holding full time employment, whatever we do is to be done as unto the Lord.

Back home then we listened to another team member share their testimony before enjoying another great meal prepared by our wonderful cooks.  Shortly thereafter it was time to go watch some soccer!  The Macha Sparrows(some of whom we scrimmaged against Friday, and the local ‘big’ team) were playing a home match, so we went to support our new friends.  We also knew that we would surely find plenty of our school children along the way, which we did indeed.  The game started about an hour late…pretty normal…and the Sparrows won.  It was great, though, to stand on the sidelines building new friendships and further strengthening ‘old’ ones.

After dinner we sat down for a board game together before calling it a night.  Hard to believe our time in Macha is wrapping up, but we look forward to the time that does remain for us here.

The Team

Zambia Trip Update #8 July 27, 2013

We all enjoyed a morning that did not begin with walking at 7am!  A little extra sleep/rest was very much appreciated as today our day’s schedule was not as jam packed as the previous days.

We took a trip to the local market to look for various little things to buy and take back to the USA.  After walking around for a bit, and finding some of the children we have seen a lot of this past week, we headed back to the dorm for a light lunch.  It was a light lunch because at 1500 hours, or 3pm, we were meeting at one of our Zambian friend’s village for a meal at his house.  The meal did not disappoint as we all left full of nshima(the local food staple), rice, potatoes, cabbage, and chicken.  Oh of course we had more of the local favorite, ibbwatu!  We also had a special treat in that Zambia was playing Botswana in a soccer match, so we got to enjoy that as well while dining. (Zambia tied 1-1.)  After the meal, our friend took us around his village and showed us his pigs, his chickens, his up and coming butchery shop, and also his new project of building some rental housing units.  Needless to say he’s quite the business man.  Despite his busy day today, he and his wife welcomed us, and we definitely appreciated their hospitality.

But perhaps the real highlight of the day was during our Team Time when one of our Zambian brothers who we’ve been working with all week shared his testimony.  It was one of those experiences that gives you goosebumps as you listen.  Here is a man who is walking proof of the Lord’s grace, but even more so, proof of the power of the Holy Spirit living in someone.  His smile and joy are infectious, and it challenged each one of us to be more bold in our lives as believers.  As is our practice when someone in our group shares a testimony, we spend some time in prayer for that person.  So we did that.

And then, as prayer ended, he asked for a Bible.  As he turned the pages he shared with us that this verse was given to him by the Spirit during the prayer, and that it was meant for us.  This after sharing a testimony laden with vivid dreams through which the Lord had spoken to him, even as a non believer.

I Timothy 3:16

Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:

He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.

He simply closed by saying that as Push The Rock, this must be OUR goal.  We must preach HIM among the nations, and if we do, we can never fail.  He challenged us to never lose sight of this, focus on true godliness, and to be bold in this aspect of the ministry, no matter what our programs. At this point we were all so moved by his sharing we were nearly in tears.  It was amazing.  I think it’s fair to say that for me personally, I’ve never been more amazed by a personal story of the power of the Holy Spirit living and working in a person’s life.

We are so grateful to be here for so many reasons.  This sharing time was simply one of them, but such a powerful one.  Oh, and tomorrow we get to worship together with so many of these amazing people we are blessed to meet and work with!  Hallelujah!

The Team…for some pictures of our first week in Zambia, visit the PTR Facebook page HERE!

Zambia Trip Update #7 July 26, 2013

And just like that, we had to say goodbye.  After a week together for several hours every day, leaving is not necessarily the easiest! For many of our team, today was the last time they will see these dear children.  We had a great ‘closing day’ with the students and teachers, challenging them to a couple different soccer related activities.  Us PTR coaches also challenged the teachers to a little friendly soccer relay, which we managed to win.  It was great, half the students were chanting “Zambia, Zambia,” in support of their teachers, and then the other half was cheering on our behalf.  Fun for all regardless of the end result.

As our day ended the school had prepared several ‘goodbye’ presentations for us.  Each class had prepared songs for us, and several students also stepped forward to thank us personally as well.  It was touching to say the least, and there were tears in some of our eyes as the realization came that this was goodbye.  Our hope is that for this week, they heard what we shared about the love and message of Christ, and that they saw it in our actions as well.  Our prayer of course is that we will meet all these wonderful smiling faces again in heaven some day, if not here on earth.

Some of the children from this school are local, so we’ll see them around now as the semester has ended…which is GREAT!  In fact, after lunch and our time together discussing Noah’s trusting character, followed by another team members testimony, a couple of these school children met us at the dorm to walk with us to our match for the night.  It turned out that the other team showed up rather late, but we made the most of the time by scrimmaging among ourselves until then.  Finally when the Macha Sparrows had assembled, we enjoyed the friendly competition, losing 2-1 as the darkness surrounded us.

With our little fan club and contingent of school children, we walked ‘home’ singing and talking together. It wasn’t one of our long walks, this one was a mere 10 minutes or so, as this field is the main community field found right behind the local hospital.  We then showered quickly and were back out the door for a walk to a nearby village for a real treat!  On Sunday, we had pre-ordered a meal of tacos, dessert cake, and coffee or tea.

Yes, this was prepared by a local Zambian lady who has amazing cooking skills to say the least.  We were joined by a couple friends we’ve gotten to really know and appreciate since arriving, which made the time even more special.  For our Zambian brothers who had joined us, this was their first taco experience, which they enjoyed…at least so they said!  Many of us ‘experienced’ taco eaters said these were some of the best taco’s we’ve ever had.  And then to be followed by an amazing chocolate cake was a great way to end the meal.  I should clarify that this woman does have dreams of starting a restaurant one day, so we were grateful to support her effort, but we also can now see she definitely has the skills to do so.

Oh I should mention that in addition to this fine meal, we were also served the local beverage of choice, ibbwatu.  There really is no explanation or comparison that can do it justice.  Suffice to say it is a maize based drink that is a milky white color, somewhat sweet, and has maize solids in it as well.  For most of us westerners, it is an acquired taste!  But the team did great in at least trying it, and that’s all we can ask.

After we finished the meal and enjoyed some more fellowship, we enjoyed the star filled sky while walking home.  We have really enjoyed this week for so many reasons…but we are looking forward to a little slower paced day tomorrow!

Loving life in Macha,

The team

Zambia Trip Update #6 July 25, 2013

Today was our last ‘normal’ day at the school we’ve been working at.  It’s kind of hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day of the school week and actually the last day of the semester for children here.  This means our schedule will be slightly rearranged on Friday to accommodate, which made today the 4th and final day of the same approach to how our day would run.

So anyway,  after our prayer time with the teachers, we headed back to chapel with the students.  Today we thought it’d be fun to sing a song for the students and teachers, and after a little debate among the team, and a last minute practice session, we settled on “You are Holy/Prince of Peace.”  They seemed to really enjoy our little presentation, even if we did stumble over  a few verses!  It only seemed appropriate to try after all the singing they’ve been leading for us!

Two of our team members shared their testimonies, and it was really cool to see the emotion that was poured out in the process.  The students and teachers could see the power of the Spirit in the words that were shared, and it was special to be a part of it.  This is definitely a special group, and I for one am thankful to be a part of it!

Back on the soccer field, we did some fun games with the kinder children, and of course then included the teachers in the competition, which has become a big highlight for all of us this week.  It has been really neat to see the school staff become more and more involved not just this week, but especially over the last few years of PTR being here.  For the two older groups we continued teaching various soccer related skills, followed by our ‘competitive’ matches of the day.  It would be fair to say that by the close of today’s camp, we were all ready for some rest…and lunch!

Lunch turned out to be an amazing shepherd’s pie type dish which we all enjoyed greatly.  Following that we discussed Daniel and his faithfulness to the Lord despite being in multiple positions where he could have easily compromised his belief.  With a little time then before we had our next ‘event,’ most of the team decided a  nap would be just great!  It was nice to have an afternoon ‘off’ from  a friendly match, most of our bodies needed it anyway.

We ended the day in a special way.  We walked back out to the school we’ve been working at in order to join them for dinner and devotions.  This school is also a boarding school to 30+ children, so during the week, they sleep at the school as well.  It was these students we got to share a meal with, as well as some more time in song and in prayer.  We all enjoyed the time to just sit back and enjoy time together that didn’t revolve around teaching soccer!  The time offered us the chance to build some deeper relationships with these particular students, and these are the kind of special moments that often remain etched in our memories and hearts.

The Milky Way looked amazing on our walk back home, something we don’t see often, or ever really, back in the USA.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky…in fact I’m pretty sure we have not seen a cloud since getting here, day or night!  Another team member shared their testimony to end our day, and now its off to bed to rest up for a great end to the week.

Thanks for praying!

Eric for the Team

Zambia Trip Update #5 July 24, 2013

The week may be half way over, but our time in Zambia is not, and that’s a great thing from our perspective!

Our time at the school continues to go well.  We are really enjoying joining the teachers for prayer time before each day begins, which is then followed by chapel and singing with all the students(this is where we get to do our sharing), and THEN, it is our  time for fun on the soccer field.  The children obviously love  the nice  break from their normal school routine, but what is also great is to have the teachers going through our skill  and game stations, equally enjoying the time.  It really is a blast!   The week is flying by, hard to believe tomorrow is our 2nd to last day at the school, we’ll just have to keep making the most of every opportunity.

Today for lunch we were treated with a ‘typical’ Tonga meal, nshima.  It is sort of like a thick porridge, and is the staple food in the diet here.  Each team member did great in trying it, and most even enjoyed it…which was great   because we had more for dinner!  But before dinner we had our 3rd soccer match, which was really a rematch from Monday’s game.  It was good to see the same people again, and much to their disappointment our team won 2-1.  That did not stop us from meeting together afterwards for some words of encouragement and prayer.

We rushed back to our dorm to get cleaned up, as we had been invited to a local Zambian’s home for dinner.  Again nshima, with several options for relish, and it was just as good as our lunch, if not better!  It was a special time together as we talked, and then spent some time singing some praise and worship songs together.  Did we mention that everyone here seems to be able to sing…well?  It’s true, the voices are amazing and it was great to sit together and  honor the Lord with songs.  We said thank you  and good night as we headed back out, on foot of course, for the dorm.  At least we were fortunate enough that this walk was only about 15 minutes!

It is fair to say we are all looking forward to some rest tonight!

The team