Our Vision

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P.O. Box 620170, Kalomo, Zambia
Our vision is to bring the love of Jesus Christ to the children of Zambia through physical and spiritual means.Our hearts longing is to empower the local church and village community to meet the great need of the many orphans and widows through the development of an orphanage.(Psalm 68:5-6a)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Sweerins – Faith, Hope, and Love (even through heartbreaking loss)

FAITH –  We mentionedSweerins1 in a previous post how excited we were about the arrival of friends of ours Nate and Melanie Sweerin.  They joined us in April 2013 along with their infant daughter Natalie to help us and the ministry for a year.  It is never an easy decision to bring your young family from the comforts of the States to a third world country 1/2 way around the world but this young couple decided that they would answer God’s call and words cannot describe the blessing that they have been to us.

Memory Card Dec 2013 219 Not only was it the first time that we have had a couple serve here along side of us (good for morale, encouragement, and friendship) both Nate and Melanie fit in perfectly with the help that we were needing.  Nate with his skill at fixing vehicles, building, and general handiness was a great co-laborer for Jako allowing him to share the burden of all the maintenance of our off road vehicles, generator, and everything on the grounds here but also his passion for discipling and seeing locals grow in their knowledge of God also made him the right fit to help meet the spiritual needs of the people here as well.. 

Memory Card Dec 2013 031Melanie  came with the skills and heart needed to meet our other large need – someone to oversee the preschool program and help with the upstart of the primary school.  Not an easy job to undertake, but after spending a few weeks with Alyssa, Melanie took the reigns and did a great job, building relationships quickly and helping the local teachers become more self sustainable while still providing the support and encouragement that they needed.  Soon she was comfortable enough with the preschool and the local teachers there that she could focus more and more on planning for the primary school.Memory Card Dec 2013 179

HOPE- Not long after  being here with us the Sweerins found out that they were pregnant with their second child who was to be born in December 2013.  This brought great joy and of course much to look forward to in the future.  Even though we (the Jouberts) we planning on being gone to the States for a few months from Mid Sep – Early Dec the Sweerins prayed and decided to travel to South Africa and have the baby there when it was close to the time and then return to Zambia.  When the team from Iowa came (along with Nate’s parents and brother Nick) they brought gifts and things for the baby. 

LOVE-  Memory Card Dec 2013 177 One big blessing of having been here before was that both Nate and Melanie already knew a bit of what to expect and how we do ministry but it was a  joy to see the genuine love with which each of them did their roles.  Nate worked hard everyday with whatever physical task needed to be done (which was a great morale booster to Jako- having someone to work with who knew what he was doing) but Nate’s real joy was doing a weekly Bible study with our two workers Sakumbilla and Thomas (using Firm Foundations material).  He also enjoyed filling in for Jako at the two church Bible studies and community Bible study.  It was neat witnessing his relationships with the locals deepening and how he discipled and spiritually mentored the locals that God brought his way.  The locals in turn respected him when he lead community projects or worked tasks with them because of his care and love.

Melanie’s love for the children andMelanie Millium Cecilia-001 teachers at the school was also evident,. as well as her love for the IMGP3583children and mothers at the Children’s home.  Little Natalie brought joy and smiles to everyone’s face and allowed Melanie a chance to relate to the local woman and teachers in way that only another mother can – helping to bridge cultural differences and allowing deeper  friendships and a way of relating when discipling.  Melanie lead short daily Bible studies with the preschool teachers but also empowered them to continue on their own in times of her absence.  She fit in well with our team here and in with just a little instruction was equipped to handle all the things that Amber does while we would be gone (admin, finance, children’s home weekly distributions, community medical assistance etc.).

And then came NICK-Nick-001 Nate’s brother, arrived with the team from Iowa and stayed on for an additional month plus.  It was a great encouragement to Nate and Melanie to be able to share the ministry they were doing with family and of course Natalie enjoyed all the love and attention she got from her Uncle Nick.  A hard worker and wanting to serve, Nick was quick to help with any project at hand whether it be digging holes and helping to install a big solar panel array, reading or playing with the children’s home kids, chopping firewood or even doing dishes – he was here to serve and was a blessing to all.  It was nice for us to know that he would be there to help Nate and Melanie at the beginning when we were gone.

Plans were made for our departure both on our side and on theirs and in terms of the physical all was looking good.We left in September confident in their ability and so thankful that God had provided the right people to sustain the ministry while we were away.  We left with the excitement that next time we see each other that the Sweerins would be 4 instead of 3!

LOSS and PROVISION-Zambia Dec 2013 026September 22, 2013  was a day that was both wonderful and tragic as Elijah Dale Sweerin made his entrance into this world, and then soon left to be with the Lord.  Words cannot describe the emotions the Sweerins must have encountered by them in the loss of their precious baby boy however in their grief they could still see God’s hand of provision.  Not only was Nate’s brother Nick there to help support and encourage them but friends from home were flying in to visit them (previously arranged) only days afterwards.  Missionary friends in Zambia surrounded them with love and support and because of their FAITH in God, they decided to not make an immediate decision to return home to the States.   Instead they returned to Mukamba and through their grief, continued to trust in God and carry out duties here (with the strength that only God could have given them). 

In spite of it being a time of deep sadness and healing God almost immediately Memory Card Dec 2013 099Memory Card Dec 2013 072opened doors  through Elijah’s death as the people in the community saw the Sweerins commitment and love for them.  They grieved with them, prayed for them, attended a small burial service for Elijah and through his death, Melanie was able to relate and minister to a teacher at the school who had been through a similar experience.  The community became serious about building the primary school and for the first time in years (since first agreeing and promising to do their part for the primary school) the community actually had a workable group coming every day to transport bricks and build them.  God was showing his faithfulness and provision in the midst of dark times.

FAITH FOR THE FUTURE- After some time and with a lot of prayer Nate and Melanie felt like God was calling their family back to the States for a time.  They left in early November and while they don’t know what the future may hold they are trusting that God does and that He will guide and direct them every step of the way (whether it is to stay in the States or return to Zambia).  Please pray that God will continue to heal and minister to this special family and make His presence and His will clear to them.  To read more about their time here and their journey from their perspective go to http://nathanandmelaniesweerin.blogspot.com/ and to see more pictures of their time here visit https://picasaweb.google.com/missionoflovezambia/TheSweerinFamilyAndNick

Olivia and The Difference a 1 Year Volunteer Can Make

WeWell Drilling June 2013 100 first met Olivia at a missions conference in the States and while none of us knewOlivia Ruth at that time that things that God had in store, we were blessed to have Olivia serve here with us from August 2012 – August 2013.  When first inquiring about what she might be doing we gave Olivia several possible areas of ministry and asked her to pray about what areas she thought God might be leading her to do, advising her to start small at first.  In the end, her impact was far greater than we ever could have imagined.  Here is just a glimpse of what God was able to accomplish through her in the course of 1 year:

- Weekly training with the housemothers –  Dec 2012 111 working from a curriculum called “Offering Hope and Healing to Children in Crisis” by Rainbows of Hope Olivia taught the mothers about childhood development and how trauma (such as loosing parents, being passed from caregiver to caregiver, being sick with HIV/AIDS) can affect children.  It focused how to care for each child’s emotional, mental and spiritual development, and how to deal with challenging behaviors.  Every week the mothers looked forward to having Olivia help them problem solve some situation they were dealing with and they had good laughs and fun times learning how to fill each child’s love cup in unique and special ways.  It was neat to see the mothers bonding differently with each child and to see the affect that this training was having on these housemothers and the children God had given them. 

- Weekly Bible Study with the housemothersDec 2012 118 The highlight of each week for the housemothers definitely was this.  While all of our housemothers profess to be Christians, in the village very little teaching in done on the Old Testament and so their knowledge of God is limited.  Starting with women of the Old Testament like Ruth and Esther, the mothers easily related to the stories and were excited to see how they were going to progress and what God was going to do in each of their situations. Then when Olivia moved onto “Firm Foundations” (a curriculum developed by New Tribes Mission that teaches the Bible through chronological story telling) the mom’s really became excited as they began to see God, His truths and workings in the Old Testament in a whole new light.  During these 2 hour sessions, Olivia and the mothers prayed for one another and we often had them coming to us saying “Ah – the teaching was very good today.  We are learning so much!:  Of all the things that the mom’s asked to continue when Olivia left, this was their biggest request.

- Tutoring of the children- DSC_0004 Olivia’s background is in elementary education so when she learned that many of our children were having difficulty in school, she eagerly took up the opportunity to spend some extra time with them tutoring them.  We asked her to focus on two children in particular – Sylvester (aka Junior) who had failed a few years back and who we were hoping to send to Kalomo for higher education in a year and Precious, who although she was 15 and in grade 6 at the time was probably only functioning on a first or second grade level.  With the help of Travis, Olivia set up a program for four days a week focusing on math, reading, and English, starting at the foundation and then progressing from there.  There children not only loved the attention and one on one time but it was great to see their self confidence build and to see them realize that they were not dumb and could learn.  Their hard work definitely paid off because after the year Precious did increase her understanding and competency by several grade levels and Sylvester graduated and tested #1 at his school for grade 7 (a huge accomplishment!).  She did not stop there though but also helped the younger school aged children weekly with their reading and English so all of the children were happy.  Olivia Ennie

- Teaching English and Reading to  local women and housemothers-   while this started at the request of some of the housemothers who were illiterate or who knew little English, it quickly became known to woman of the community who asked if they could attend.  This was a great time of laughter, fun and learning enjoyed by all and not only built and solidified relationships (discipling and encouraging the woman as God allowed) but it helped many woman get closer to their goal of reading the Bible for themselves.

- Helping with weekly Children’s Church-  due to lackKara 2012 351 of education, resources, and fear that they don’t have what it takes, very few churches in the area have anything special to offer the children in the church.  While some do attend, they rarely get the message that is being preached and so with the help of Alyssa and Travis, Olivia took on the task, not only of teaching the children at the church but also training up local leaders who would continue when she left.  It was great to hear the children singing, acting out Bible stories, playing games, and learning about God in a way that Dec 2012 175they could relate to,  In the course of her year here they even did several service projects-  building benches for the children's meeting outside, fixing benches in the church, and picking up trash outside, even despite local drunk men teasing them.  To see them putting what they were learning into action was proof that their labor of love was producing fruit.  At Christmas time, under Olivia’s guidance, they even put together a Christmas Nativity for the church which was greatly enjoyed by all

-Getting Others Involved- DSCN055112-001 Not only did Olivia have people praying, supporting, encouraging and following her during the year that she was here but her being here also enabled her family to be able to come visit and help for a few weeks.  While here her mother Joyce was busy organizing donated clothing, mending clothes for the children’s home, building relationships, and getting to experience the impact that Olivia had made while here.  Her father Brian used his practical skills to build a large wooden entertainment center for the children’s home to house the TV (to help them with their English), toys, and books.  These were all things that had been on our “to do” list for a while but that we hadn’t had time to do.  It was great to see Olivia sharing her love for the people here while her parents got to experience first hand the things they had only heard or read about before.

- A Ministry of Love-  Aug - Nov 2012 035 While there was many other thingsKara 2012 192 that Olivia was involved in, helping with volunteers and projects around camp, helping at the preschool, having girls night for the older children at the children’s home, playing with the toddlers, tending to medical needs of those in the community, going up to the children’s home any time she could just to spend time together or praying for someone in need – whatever Olivia did, she did it with deep genuine love.  The year she was here gave her a chance to really know and invest in the people here and because of that people have been changed and a legacy has been left.  Thank you Olivia for helping others learn more about God and for showing them God’s love in action.  To see more pictures of Olivia and her time here visit https://picasaweb.google.com/missionoflovezambia/Olivia