I’m not sure how to start talking about a trip that has adjusted my entire perspective on the world around me. Beginning by saying it was an amazing experience and an undeniable blessing is a good place to start I suppose.
On the way over spending several hours in London was great, Westminster Abby more than Buckingham Palace was stunning but both were equally impressive. Leaving the UK it was 90 degrees F when we deplaned in Johannesburg, South Africa it was about 48 F, bracingly cold. In total getting from Nashville to Livingston, Zambia took 37 hours.
Livingston is one of the larger cities in Zambia and is where we spent our first three days. The "we" I’ll be referring to is Randy the CEO of Healing Hands International, Burt & Bill: HHI board members, and David HHI Agricultural specialist. Bill had arrived in Zambia a day prior to the rest of the teams arrival.
We settled into a nice place off the main drag through town and met Klaus a 27 year resident of Zambia originally from Germany; he is also the owner of Twin Fountains Ag Institute in Kalomo, Zambia. David and Klaus headed to Kalomo to get the workshop organized leaving the rest of us to do tourist stuff before getting to work. To condense three days we canoed 20km down the Zambezi River, had two automotive and one water safari, ate wonderful food, stayed one night in luxury tents (this is the same night it dropped to 38F), met many fascinating people and saw many, many elephants, giraffe, zebra, hippo, water buffalo, impala, kodoo, water bucks, crocs, birds and scenic, unspoiled landscape than I could have imagined.
When the tourist stuff was over Burt and I took a local bus to Kalomo. It was an adventure swerving through massive potholes for almost two hours only to get to our stop and have no one to pick us up for almost 30 minutes.
Once we were at Twin Fountain we settled into the guest house which was currently inhabited by large bug eating spiders. Klaus and his wife treated us to a lovely dinner which was pulled entirely from their farm. Everything was fresh, the bread, butter, cheese, chicken, huge dishes of vegetables and everything was delicious! A nice glass of wine with the mean was more than welcome. Before Sunday service the next morning they treated us to breakfast which was equally fantastic.
Communion was two cups of wine and delicious, fresh flat bread, the singing was glorious. The village on Klaus’ farm was there, as usual, but in attendance were church leaders from 11 African countries and the HHI folks. We sung common songs like How Great Thou Are and Amazing Grace but only the tunes were recognizable. Everyone sang in their native tongue which created a tapestry of some 15 languages praising God in segregated unison.
As the workshop got underway it was my job to document the information and collect stories from the guests. The information I gathered was how these people benefited from HHI’s assistance and training, their respective church works and struggles they are facing. I was also documenting various projects going on around the region that Twin Fountain was involved with.
I heard stories about extreme poverty, life and death starvation, orphans, Islamic riots and murders against Christians and how the Gospel is being spread through the works of the church across Africa. One thing is for sure Africa is quickly becoming the front line of faith, particularly between Islam and Christianity. This part of the experience has startled, depressed and encouraged me. Spiritually, I feel connected to people who are fighting for the literal survival of souls and bodies across a continent. Mentally, I feel conflicted because I see that my work at Scripps is pretty useless to my more important spiritual need.
Connected to each of those feelings is my perspective to the world around me. America is not the place it used to be. The perspective of the rest of the world, particularly the “third world” is very different than what we think it might be. Unappreciative, egotistical, bullies (my words) encapsulates a lot of it pretty well I think. I’ve never met people with so little that were so happy and known so many people with so much who are so miserable.
The trip was a joy and something I’m going to try and move towards doing more often. My true take home is that so much of the things I worry about are useless. Christ’s love for brothers and sisters the world over is very real and very tangible in the most comfortable and desperate situation. My family is a gift and manifestation of that love and you guys are an extension of the same.
I can’t wait to go again!