Our first group of mission trippers came from one of our partnership churches in Dallas, PCPC. These 21 mission trippers were the first group to test out staying in the complex and the first to put on an Arise Africa Bible Camp at Taonga school.
We started our week off by attending church at Twin Palm Baptist where several of our staffers go every Sunday. The service was a little longer than what the group is used to at PCPC because Zambians love to sing, so the beginning of the service before the message is much longer than a typical American service. We sang a few songs in Nyanja and a few familiar songs as well. There was even a song the congregation sang to welcome visitors. During the song every one stood up and went to shake every visitors hand they could. It was encouraging to feel so welcomed.
Monday we started camp! Each day of camp always starts with worship among Arise staff and mission trippers. Year after year it's a highlight for everyone. Americans aren't used to Zambian worship with lots of clapping and dancing, but once they get the hang of the new songs, everyone loves it!!
Each mission tripper was paired with one of our Zambian staff members and 6 kids from Taonga school who would be in their group for the week. Each team got chitenge headbands, chose a team name, decorated their team flag, and came up with a chant to perform during large group time.
Next up was large group time where we sang more songs with the kids. Our staff does such a great job bringing energy and making camp a total blast for the kids!
After large group, teams got together to hear the lesson for the day. Throughout the week, we discussed John 3:16 in 4 parts. Day one we learned "for God so loved the world". Groups learned about creation and God's love for us. They also learned about how sin entered the world and made our hearts dirty. The kids received a heart coloring sheet that they glued dirt on for a visual reminder. Renea Conser instructed her kids to try to make the heart clean again. When they couldn't, Renea explained that in the same way, we need someone else to come clean our hearts. I loved seeing how each team used their own style and creativity to teach the lesson.
After small group time, we came together for one more large group session. We asked for volunteers to come up and say the piece of the memory verse they learned that day. It was cool to see that the kids were soaking up the things they were learning in small group time.
Every day during this final large group session, two Zambian staffers would put on a skit that further demonstrated the lesson for that day. It's no surprise that I was impressed by our staff again. They went all out in their skits and the kids loved it! Lastly, it wouldn't be Zambian Bible camp if we didn't sing a few more songs. Finally the kids were dismissed to eat lunch with their counselors.
Camp ended after lunch, but we always hung around to play with the kids a little more before heading to our next activity.
Camp followed the same structure everyday. Kids had a blast singing songs, watching the skits, memorizing and reciting their memory verse, learning about Jesus in small group time, playing games, and doing crafts. Americans loved the time they got to spend with their kids and the staff.
The last day of camp is game day! We set up several stations for the kids including a bounce castle, face painting, sack races, and more. It's (organized) chaos and tons of fun! Each team got paired up with another team and started rotating through stations. One station was widah, a local game similar to jumprope but more complicated. Some of the younger ones don't understand how to play yet, so Sammy Joe is helping this little one learn.
Face painting station was a huge hit and everyone looked awesome!
Kids had fun on the jumpy castle too!
After camp each day, we explored a new place in Lusaka. One day we went to Mother Theresa's, a local orphanage for young children ran by nuns. Americans got to love on little ones who are eager for affection. We love and support this ministry that is working hard to provide for these kids. It can be hard to have time to play and cuddle when there are so many kids to feed and change, so we always give mission trippers the chance to love on these little ones for an afternoon. Another day we went to Cheshire homes, a global ministry that cares for disabled children. Americans enjoyed loving on these precious children.
One afternoon, mission trippers walked 20 minutes through N'gombe compound to Arise Africa's newest property. Arise had recently purchased some property in hopes of starting a new school. This was contingent on if we could find water. We had been drilling for several days with no traces of water. It was fun to talk with staffers and mission trippers during our walk to the new property. Once there, we toured the property and prayed as a group that we would find water. Within hours of leaving the property, Megan received a call that they had found water!! Another reminder that the Lord hears our prayers and loves to give us good things. More details about the new school to come!
Some mission trippers came to Africa eager to see their sponsored child. By the end of the week, several others had decided to sponsor kids as well! Taonga school, where Bible camp was held has several children in need of sponsorship, so many of the Americans were able to build relationships with their kids all week before deciding to sponsor them. What a special thing to spend a whole week pouring into your sponsored kid! Needless to say, home visits quickly filled up our afternoons as well. Mission trippers were able to see where their kids lived, meet their families, and bring some food as a gift.
On the last night of the mission trip, everyone was surprised with a special performance from Gospel Trekkers. Gospel Trekkers is a rap group that two of our staffers, Kochelani and Sammy Joe, are a part of. They are very talented and everyone loved their performance. It was a great end to an awesome week! It was hard for Americans and our staff to say goodbye to their co-counselors that they had formed relationships with.
Last week, we had a group come to Zambia to help us make progress on the Arise Home 2 where our girls will be staying. Mission trippers got to see every aspect of life in Lusaka in that week. They rode minibuses, shopped for supplies, took Arise Home kids to the crocodile farm, worked in the schools with our staff, met their sponsored kids and went on home visits. I am sure they went back to America with a lot of stories!
Each day looked different from the next and we split up into groups because 20 some muzungus (nyanja word for white people) can be overwhelming walking through compounds, markets, and whatever else. I imagine everyone left with different experiences, but every one served Arise so well and experienced the real Africa. For that we praise God!
It was fun for me to go to the Arise Home 2 at the end of the week when the work was done and see how much got done in one week! At the beginning of the week, nothing had been painted. By the end of the week every bedroom had an accent wall painted in a bright color picked out by the girls who will be living there. Once the team was gone we walked through the home with the Arise Home girls. They rushed in and out of every room looking for their new room. They loved the bright walls and were especially excited for the net ball court (similar to basketball) that was in process to the side of the house.
Throughout the week, mission trippers got to visit each school we partner with. To reach Grace and Dotroda, mission trippers crammed into a mini bus (accompanied by our wonderful staff) for a little over an hour each morning. Needless to say, it was an adventure. For those who don't know, minibuses are Zambia's public transportation system. They are large vans with a few extra makeshift seats so that they can fit as many people as possible. Each bus has it's own personality; you never know what kind of music you're gonna get or the volume it'll be played at. For a more detailed (and hilarious) explanation of the minibus experience, head over to ihategreenbeans.com and read about Lyncee and Lara’s minibus experience!
Our other partnership school, Taonga, is a 20 minute walk from the complex. Several of us got to spend two days at Taonga helping Abi (headmaster) and Koch (Child Sponsorship Officer) with a list of tasks. We sorted trash and almost burned down the school. Not our strongest moment of the day, still the crisis was averted by the interns fast reflexes. We also created an adorable hand print wall, which has a handprint from all 111 kids at Taonga! We had lots of fun with this task.
We also got to interview kids at the school to help Koch write reports on his kids. This was a special time for everyone to get to slow down and just listen to the kids and ask them about their home lives, their favorite things, and what they are enjoying in school. I had the privilege of meeting with Dalitso, a very bright kid. I was very encouraged after meeting with him because it was obvious that he was not only receiving a good education, but had a great work ethic, a desire to learn, and was clearly being discipled and loved. When I asked him about his time at Bible camp, he quickly and perfectly recited the verse of the week, John 3:16. I was so impressed! Meeting with him filled me hope for all the kids at Taonga. I am confident that they are being taught well, learning life skills, and most importantly learning how to follow Christ.
One afternoon, all the mission trippers joined us at Taonga for some fun after school. We had sack races, relay races, and made balloon hats for the kids. Everyone had a blast!
The highlight of my time at Taonga school was when I decided to step into the grade 3 class. The kids were all dressed up and ready to perform a play about the birth of Jesus. I was impressed with how well the kids performed. They all had their lines memorized, spoke with enthusiasm and stayed in character. It was fun to see this side of the kids.
Lots of mission trippers got to visit their sponsored kids as well as the sponsored kids of their friends. Here is one mission tripper visiting the home of her sponsored child. Check out that smile!
This summer we had a family come all the way from California to serve Arise and meet their sponsored kids. They sponsor Mary, who lives in the home, as well as a few other kids in community schools. Here is Dani Williams with Mary at Taonga school. These girls are the best of friends and Mary’s face always lights up when she sees Dani.
We also had several people sponsor children during their week in Zambia. It was a cool experience to be present when their new sponsors told children that they were going to sponsor them. Here is Chad and Liz telling one of their two new sponsored children, Leonard, that they will be a part of their lives for a long time!
The Lord has been so faithful to provide during the last month of mission teams. Lots of growth has occurred. We praise God!
24 kids were sponsored since Team 1 arrived
5 mission trippers sponsored an Arise Home kid
7 people sponsored a kid in the home (5 mission trippers and 2 friends of mission trippers)
7 children were sponsored by 7 people under 22 #millenialsrock
The Consers sponsored 5 kids
4 kids were sponsored from the social media posts of mission trippers
We have added two boys (Lovemore and Muyunda) in the home and they are almost half way to being fully funded (click here to help us get closer!)
What a great summer it's been so far! Excited for what's to come.