John 13:34,35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We received visitors from all over the US that love us here in Zambia and that really lived the word of God out this winter (their summer). The first people to arrive were Nate Sweerin and Melanie Richter who got here on the 14th of May. Some of you may remember that Nate was here with us last year for 3 months and this year he felt called to come for another 3 months. Melanie is his girlfriend. While we were a little apprehensive about letting a dating couple come for that long, because of our respect and trust for Nate we were willing to take that chance. But more about them late
The same day, Amber’s sister in law, JoAnn Enget, and two of her nephews (Caleb and Seth age 10 and 9) arrived to have a day of fellowship before they joined the team of 9 from Idlewild Baptist church in Tampa, Florida that was coming the next day (May 15th). This team was lead by Amber’s brother, Joshua Finklea and consisted mostly young adults (20’s and 30’s) eager to come assist us in any way that was needed. Little did they know that that they would get to experience a bit of our life (and difficulties) here in Zambia right off the bat.
About 45 minutes down the road to our home, the bed of our Toyota Hilux snapped in half. All I heard was a loud noise and anyone looking at the vehicle would have thought it was a tipper truck dumping it’s load of team luggage. Obviously we were stranded. Praise God that Mike Jones, a missionary to Zambia for the past 16 years, was driving some of the team in his 15 seater minivan. Even though it was late he called his wife and made quick dash to get his 3 ton truck from home (1 1/2 hours away) to help us out. The girls and the two boys were housed nice and warm a the Jones house while the men stood vigil by the broken truck, helped load it onto Mike’s flatbed, and rode in the back to Kalomo in the cold. From there we met up with the rest of the team and started the dirt road part of the trip. All in all a drive that was supposed to take only 4 hours took us over 12 hours, putting us home and asleep only after 3 am that morning. Just a few hours later, all of us still dirty from the previous day’s fun, got dressed and went to church to enjoy a nice long 3 + hour church service fellowshipping with the locals.
The team was busy and worked hard from the time that they arrived but seemed to be having fun as well. There were smiles and laughs all around as they spent two days at the local community school acting out Bible stories and playing with the kids. It was especially hilarious to see Amber’s little nephew Seth play David and slay the giant Goliath! One day they did the hard work of digging stones for our houses septic tank drain field. That is a tough job for anyone even if they are used to doing it but the team joyfully pressed on with it the whole day. Another day the girls put their frills and loaded cattle manure from the cattle farm for the orchard. While they were busy “in the poo” the men got dirty in their own way helping to get this set up for building a new cattle pen for the other one is old and falling apart. After loading up the poles (tree stumps) that Obie had cut throughout the bush they finally got to start putting it together. It took us 3 days to complete and now but us, and the cattle are happy (well maybe not the cattle) because now they can’t get out and destroy whole fields of corn. Back at home, everyone was digging ditches around the fruit trees and then filling it in with cattle manure for fertilizer.
Every afternoon the team taught Bible stories to the children at the orphanage and played with them. They even got the opportunity to eat almost all our dinners there with them. I don’t think quite everyone enjoyed the traditional Tonga meal every night (especially the Kapentas – whole dried small fish cooked in a bit of tomatoes and oil) but it gave them exposure to the local village way of life and they did enjoy getting a chance to fellowship and eat with them in that way. The ladies even got to help the house mothers prepare the meals and some even tried their hand at the art of stirring Nshima.
Unfortunately it was also a hard week emotionally in the village. When we arrived we learned that Charles grandson (7 months old) had just passed away. Charles is our local home security guard/worker. This grandson was the only child of his son and both parents were not believers. We grieved with Charles over the loss and Buff, the young singles pastor of the group was actually invited to go and preach at the funeral. What he said touched the parents heart and we pray that the seeds that were planted will take root and grow. Later on in the week, Buff and I were going to town for supplies and we ran across Francis (another local) who asked if we could take him and his wife, Florida, to the hospital (2 hours away in town). She was very pregnant (after having suffered a miscarriage the previous pregnancy) but not doing good health wise. After a phone call home the whole team was praying for them only to find out that the baby had died a week earlier in utero. After being transferred to another hospital the doctors said that if she had gotten there even a few hours later Florida would have been dead from infection. While we were sorrowed by the loss of this baby and for the family who so desperately wanted it, we saw God’s hand at work in preserving Florida’s life. A few days later when Florida was out of the woods, Francis came to visit us and the team and told us how he was suffering because of the situation and not being able to harvest his corn. Animals were busy eating it and he was facing loosing all his crops. When the team heard, they all jumped in the tractor trailer and ate a lot of dust to go help. One day’s harvest was not enough but the show of love and support to Francis brought tears to his eyes and we were able to hire 3 men for a week to finish the rest of the work that we couldn’t do. To date Florida is doing much better but please pray for them because the emotional wounds will take much longer to heal than the physical ones.
Apart from all the hard labor on the various work projects, the team worked hard at home as well with cooking duty, dishes, pumping water, chopping fire wood, starting camp and cook fires, stoking the donkey (you have to come here to know what that means : ) and all the duties that come along with camp life. Nate, having been here before, was a big help in showing everyone what to do and Melanie took no time getting into the swing of things. Even Caleb and Seth, the little brothers of the whole team got in on all the action from shoveling cattle poo, to starting fires and playing with the kids and even to slaughtering the goat (for food). The team also showered their love on Jakob relentlessly and he loved being in someone’s arms and the center of attention the whole time.
We must say that the team from Idlewild were a real blessing and they were good helpers of the project. They got a lot done that Amber and me do not need to do now so thank you everyone. It was real nice to meet you all. Thank you for the work that you did and Josh thanks for doing a good job leading it.
Thank you everyone we love you and know that we feel all the prayers.
Jako, Amber and Jakob John Joubert
Mission of Love Community Orphanage Zambia