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

Monday, January 27, 2014

Many Hands and Many Blessings

June 12 to Sep 3 was a busy but great time for us here as three teams, 6 volunteers, and one family came to bless us and the ministry.  Each made a tremendous impact as they each gave their unique talents, gifts, and time to God to use here in Mukamba.

Alexa and Chris gave up what Alexa Cecilia 2 little time they had between graduating from the Air Force Academy and starting med school to Chris Juniorcome and help here for a month.  From the time they got here they jumped right in playing with the children, reading with them, playing soccer, treating minor wounds and illness’, building relationships with the mothers, and helping out around the camp with anything from mixing and pouring concrete for a team campfire area, redoing the outside team showers,  fixing the preschool roof that blew off, cooking, doing dishes, helping with sand runs, chopping firewood, and many other things necessary to help sustain a group of people and the ministry out here in the bush.  Their hard work and ability to make work fun, while at the same time doing a good job, brought lots of smiles and laughter to us, the children, the mothers and to all around.  For more pictures of Chris and Alexa and their time here please visit www.picasaweb.google.com/missionoflovezambia/SummerVolunteers

Kristen drawing 3Kristen, with a love for art and a background as being an art Kristen Mainza Emmanuel-001 teacher, used her 2 months here to bless the Children’s home with 4 very large murals and several other smaller ones.  She started by asking the mothers and children what they would like and they excitedly chose 4 Bible scenes- 2 of Moses, one of Jesus Birth and one of John the Baptist.  Each had a special meaning to the them and relayed truths that they had recently been learning at church.  She also painted small  murals in each of the mothers rooms (each chose Bible scenes again) and before she left she blessed each of the children and mothers with their own ink drawn portrait.  When she wasn’t  busy with the murals Kristen was often tutoring, reading, Kristen murals (1)-001playing with the children, letting them experiment with art and coloring, spending time with the mothers and helping around camp.  She had a sweet quiet spirit with a big  smile and love for others that made anyone around here feel at peace. For more pictures of Kristen, her  murals and time here please visit www.picasaweb.google.com/missionoflovezambia/KristenAndHerGiftOfArt

Idlewild Baptist Church of Tampa, Fl sent a team of 8 to us from July 6- 12fence 5 (1)-001 and in the short week that they were with us they became sicker than any team we have ever had.  Without being too graphic lets just say that a bad tummy bug got them somehow that resulted in fever, and frequent bouts of vomiting and diarhea.  All but one of the team members became it’s victim at one time or another but even being down to 1/2 of our crew on most days, they were  still able to dig many holes and plant many poles for the cattle fence we are putting up between our house and the children’s home (in anticipation of a gift of dairy cattle we were promised by another ministry).  They clothing distribution (18)-001also helped to distribute donated blankets and clothing to approx 100church (7)-001 widows and orphans in the community, a large undertaking even with the best of planning and organization.  The team had great unity among the mixture of young and old and since only 2 of the 8 had ever been here before (the only 2 we knew) they brought to us a wonderful sense of excitement and  wonder, along with a lot of encouragement and new friendships.  Thank you team IBC for being a blessing and for all your hard work.  For more pictures of the Idlewild team and their time here please visit www.picasaweb.google.com/missionoflovezambia/IdlewildTeam2014  and for more pictures of the blanket and clothing distribution to widows and orphans visit https://picasaweb.google.com/missionoflovezambia/ClothingBlanketDistributionToOrphansAndWidowsJuly2013 

First Baptist Church of Woodbridge, Va eye ministry (4)-001blessed us with their annual team from July 26 – Aug 8.  The team consisting of 11  people, (5 men with an average age of 53'ish) and 7 woman with the help of some locals, carried and planted heavy wooden poles digging footers (19)-001(huge tree trunks) to almost complete the 700 meters of fencing for the cattle, dug the footers for the community school we are hoping to start, did eye ministry allowing some people the gift of physical sight, and other the opportunity for spiritual sight, loved on children and housemothers, and continued buildingteam and community (6)-001  on the relations that they have developed over the past 8 years that they have been coming.  What was special about this team (apart from all the work that they got done) was that  they had all been before except for Erica, a teenage daughter of previous team members so they brought with them a sense of familiarity, deep friendship, belonging, and family.  Thank you FBCW for all of your hard work this year and for all your love, partnership, and co-laboring with us over the past 8 + years.  For more pictures of the First Baptist team and their time here please visit https://picasaweb.google.com/missionoflovezambia/FirstBaptistWoodbridgeTeam

Samara and Steve   DSCF0952-001arrived with the FBC team but stayed with us an additional month until Sep. 3rd.  Samara, with a beautiful voice and gift for writing and playing music, filled the bush, campfire, Card Aug 2013 095-001children’s home and church with beautiful notes of music and worship to our God.  She was a blessing to Amber helping with her workload and things around camp but was often found loving on and connecting with the people around here – the mothers, the children (tutoring, reading, playing games), and just   playing, and holding the toddlers.   Hers was a love that didn’t mind getting dirty (with anything from dirt and mud to accidents from the babies/toddlers potty training ) because it was about loving no matter what the cost and seeing beyond the external.  While her physical help was definitely a blessing, her friendship and deep love was her biggest gift, evidenced in part by the songs that she sang, still being heard and sang around here.  For more pictures of Samara and her time here please visit https://picasaweb.google.com/missionoflovezambia/SamaraAndTheGiftOfMusic

Steve, no stranger to the mission Steve-001or hard work, was a dependable friend that we knew we could count on to help Jako with many of his building and physical work.  No matter what always carried with him a quick smile and big hug.  He was an old friend to the locals here (adultsSteve and Jako-001 and children alike) and brought some needed man-help to Jako among all the female volunteers.  While here he helped Jako expand our solar power system, building a very large battery bank stand to house our 12 solar batteries and a huge solar panel frame to house 2,500 watts of solar panels.  He also helped begin the conversion of an old   ton truck to a big trailer that will come in very handy here for anything from sand/brick runs to harvesting maize/sunflower and transporting cattle/goats.  Steve thanks for using your very practical gifts to help here in a way that few can.  To see more pictures of Steve and his time here please visit https://picasaweb.google.com/missionoflovezambia/SummerVolunteers

theDSCF0505-001 Iowa Team IMG_8227-001 came as connections through Nate and Melanie Sweerin and consisted of 9 people, including Nate’s mom and dad and brother.  As most of the team had background in working with their hands and several were builders, the team helped lay the first bricks for the large primary school (on the footers that FBCW had dug, mixed, and poured).  Laying bricks out here is a long a tedious process  as the bricks are hand made by the locals using crude frames so no brick is exactly level or the same size as the next.  Keeping lines straight, level and easy is slow and difficultIMG_8390-002 task but the foundation that they laid will stand for years and provided much needed motivation to the locals to continue the work (Our agreement with them is we will provide the physical materials of cement, roof sheets etc, if they build the brick, and build it Steve's pictures August 2013 569-001etc).  The few ladies on the team worked very hard to organize, build temporary shelves for and sort through various clothing donations that  had arrived and it was really refreshing to have a team that we had never had before, to see things from their perspective things that had become common place to us.  For more pictures of the Iowa team and their time here please visit https://picasaweb.google.com/missionoflovezambia/IowaTeam2014

Each Unique and for a Special Need  In the end,IMG_8354-001 it was an amazing few months with so much getting done and what was more amazing is the way that God provided just the right people with the right skills to meet so many different needs. It is the first year that we have hosted three teams and yet each was so different from the other.  Thank you to all that came to help and bless us and the ministry and to those that prayed, supported, and helped those that came.  And thank you to God for knowing all of our needs and for providing for them in His unique and perfect way.  To God be the glory forever and ever!