Not really sure where to begin on my update of the past couple of days, so forgive me if I ramble a bit!
Some 55 hours after the journey began, we finally arrived in Samfya! During the past few days in Zambia I have quickly realized that Zambia is not Uganda! (I know…that is such a profound revelation) There are similarities, but there are some major differences.
First of all, I have only heard the locals address me as a white person a couple times. In Uganda, we heard “mzungu” everywhere we went. Not so much in Zambia. They do use the same slang term for “cracker”, but apparently they are less impressed with us fair skinned folk.
Also, one huge difference that I was incredibly appreciative of Friday was the quality of the roads in Zambia. In Uganda, you could lose a car in some of the potholes, but the major roads in Zambia are in incredible shape. What took us 8 hours today would have taken 3 days in Uganda! In fact, the major roads in Zambia are in better shape than a majority of the roads in Macon County, Alabama. The condition of the roads is primarily contributed to the copper mining that takes place in Zambia. Even the section of the road that leads to Samfya that is typically in poor shape was recently repaved, so thank God for that!
When we arrived in Samfya we met the principal of the Bible college, Levi (pronounced Livi) and got to hear some of his vision for the school. We walked the property with Levi and Donald (the missionary representative from Riverbend church in New Zealand that has partnered with this ministry). We quickly discovered that the survey was going to be a huge undertaking. They have approx 20 acres of property sitting right on the beautiful Lake Bangweulu (also known as “where the water meets the sky”…google it, and you will see why). (Beautiful sun rise over the lake this morning, by the way)
On Saturday we met with the school board to discuss overall concept and vision and to get some direction on the project scope, we began to collect information for design, and the survey work was started. We were pleased to realize that the ministry actually has realistic and attainable goals for the property. According to our team leader, Brad, many clients of eMi have unrealistic expectations of what they can accomplish with available space and funding and this does not seem to be the case here.
Sunday morning we went to church for the inevitible cultural experience. I went to the youth service that started at 7:00am, which in Africa time means we got going at 7:45am! Time is very relative here. One of the team members was planning to share his testimony at the youth service, and I just planned to attend with him for the experience and to give him some support. After he was done and the room had begun to fill out with about 200 youth they turned to me and said, “your turn”! Luckily, I saw that coming (knowing how African churches typically operate) so I had a few verses prepared to share along with a short testimony. I hate public speaking, but I am glad I did it. After the youth service, the normal church service started, which was around 9:00 am or 9:30 am Africa time. The service lasted until about 12:30pm.
Sunday afternoon we dove into the design, collected more information and took some local water samples. We finished analyzing the last samples by candlelight as the sun went down on us, and the power went out! Some of us stayed up well into the morning working on the master plan design.
Today, we have been full speed ahead on collecting information and preparing the design for the school master plan. The goal is to have a draft of the master plan prepared to present to the ministry by Friday, which will be difficult, but not impossible.
We have had alot of opportunity for the design team to get to know each other through devotional time and sharing testimonies and I feel that God has put together a perfect group for this project and for each other.
Pray that we will be able to focus and complete our task, but also pray that we will not be so focused on the work that we ignore the opportunity to minister to people. Pray that the design ideas from each of the team members complement each other well and work well for the ministry. Finally, pray for our health while we are here serving.
Again, sorry I am rambling, but there is a lot to share, and limited time to do so. Thank you all for your prayers and support!