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Monday, November 22, 2010

On the road again

I am sitting at one of the dining tables in the main center at the Rapid 14 base as people around me are chatting about AMT, travel, future plans, and random ideas. There is a pile of duffels, backpacks, and carry-on bags by the front entrance all ready to be loaded onto a truck for the trip to the airport. We've been here for just under 3 months and today is the day to go home.

Our last expedition was by far the best time in the bush that any of us in AMT had seen yet. We saw God move powerfully through the first evening meeting and paved the way for deeper teaching and discipleship of the village throughout the week. We made door to door visits throughout three villages in the area and hosted evening meetings at our camp every night with about 100 people in attendance. The meetings always started with worship in the native language lead by one of the locals from the village and they always ended with singing, drumming, and dancing well into the night. We all would agree that we were able to connect with the people on a much more personal level on this expedition than before and we know that we were able to make a lasting impact on their lives. My favorite part of the expedition was the last night when we had a huge meal with the whole village and I got to talk for a long time with a young man named Jonathan. We asked each other questions about life in the States and Zambia, found out that we had mutual friends in another village, and just shared life for a time.

We covered more material than any other AMT class in almost 2 weeks less time and we've all changed so much in our three month stay here. One of our team members says that this three months has changed him more than anything else in his entire life. That's quite the statement considering he married young and now has 8 year old twins and a two year old son. It's been a great trip and I can't wait to share more stories with you all later.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Prepare for glory!"

That is one of my most favorite movie quotes and it comes from an excellent, epic movie. I won't reveal which movie it's from so if you don't know it, sorry, you might miss part of my meaning. This quote came to mind just today after we finished presenting our final projects and we got the info about what we're doing this coming week.

The context of this quote is that a certain group of men are about to engage in a certain battle that will forever memorialize them in history as men of courage, dedication, and determination who would fight and die for something much bigger than themselves. Their king calls out with a voice of passion and excitement, invigorating his men with anticipation of the honor of dying for their cause. Now I and my team are not about to engage in any physical struggle nor are any of us in any physical danger, but we are on the eve of a great advance in the spiritual realm of the glorious Kingdom of Heaven. In the morning, the team and I begin our third and final ministry expedition to take the Word of God to villages that have never had an expedition before. The people there have heard stories about the expeditions that have gone to areas around them and they are hungry for the same spiritual food that they have heard others take part of. As messengers of the Gospel of Christ, we will preach the Word of God, lay hands on the sick, and cast out demons in the name of Jesus as we live among the Zambian people for a week.

We need your prayers throughout this week. Pray for health and endurance for our team since it's been a long three months and we're run down from working hard these last weeks to finish all the AMT courses. Pray for openness of heart and mind to the Gospel for the people we will be ministering to. Pray for wisdom and discernment for Josh and myself as we lead the team without our AMT instructors. Pray for us to be eager and expectant for the right Word at the right time to give to these people since our time with them is so limited.

This expedition is the end of AMT. We return to the base on Friday, tie off loose ends on Saturday, graduate on Sunday, and fly home on Monday. I'll try to post an update when we get back at then end of the week before I fly home.


Monday, November 8, 2010

You asked for it...

I came to AMT expecting a challenge to grow and develop skills, talents, and gifts I had only seen whispers of in my life in Madison. I came expecting to learn numerous useful ministry skills and to have a lot of fun with a new group of people. I wanted to have crazy adventures in the African bush and do ridiculous improvised hack-job repairs and fabrications in the warehouse. There were a few things I wasn't really excited about (the heat and the local food) and a bunch of stuff I had no opinion on because I had no idea they existed (driving rainstorms and Jurassic Park-sized freaky-looking bugs). Well, I guess I got what I came for and then some.

AMT has been a whirlwind of class topics, homework, physical training, lectures, worship, chores, and so much more that it is hard to pause and evaluate all that's happened. The staff and long-term volunteers on the base make comments about how all of us AMT students have changed since we arrived and we can see some of these changes ourselves but we can't see it all right now. I think it will be well into my return to the States when I gain a more complete understanding of how I've grown in spiritual maturity, leadership skill, travel smarts, interpersonal relations, and my ministry giftings. All this growth and equipping I've experienced also comes with increased responsibility and opportunities to put it all to work. I've taken on significant leadership and teaching roles within my AMT class lately and I've had several discussions with Overland staff about what my future with Overland might look like.

Now, I look back and I see myself having accomplished much that I either never dreamed of or was once greatly intimidated by. I see God's hand on me having given me exactly what I need for every situation, guiding me and teaching me in the midst of the rapid-fire pace of AMT. I think to myself that he got me this far, maybe he'll keep it up as the world keeps turning and new things keep getting laid out before me. Sometimes it's intimidating, sometimes it's super exciting, sometimes I'm too exhausted about thinking about it that I just need to give up and take a mental vacation.

Exactly two weeks from today I will be boarding a plane to return to the States after finishing my 3-month stay in Zambia. I've seen myself grow faster and faster in the two weeks leading up to today and I'm absolutely sure that this increased rate of growth will continue through these upcoming weeks. We're working on our final projects, we're preparing for our final expedition, and I'm going through the paperwork involved to commit to going on staff with Overland. The home stretch is here and we're trying to finish strong. Here we go.

Friday, October 29, 2010

New Faces

It was Tuesday, October 5, and we had just arrived in Chilli, a village in the Nyawa chiefdom about a 6 hour drive from Livingstone. It was our second of three expeditions during AMT and we were excited to be there after learning so much in class since the first expedition. We got our camps set up, ate dinner, and had worship around the fire with about a dozen of the local people with us. It was a perfect start to our ministry there.

Over the next three days, we met with and ministered to hundreds of people in the villages within walking distance of our camp as well as in a meeting hosted at a church several kilometers away. Much of the ministry was just meeting people in their homes but we also had the privilege of teaching about Jesus to the entire local school. We had a lot of fun singing with the kids and doing a skit for them as well. The kids tended to gather at our campsite in the evenings we spent a lot of additional time with them just playing games and having fun.

I liked this expedition more than the first one. We saw great spiritual hunger in the people we met and we got to see them give their lives to Jesus and passionately worship him. We prayed for healing over dozens of people and cast demons out of a handful of others as they tore off the charms they got from a witch doctor and gave their lives to Christ. Overall, we saw many lives change for the better and I grew tremendously in my understanding of the local culture, the African worldview, and how to share the Gospel to people who think nothing like the way I do with my Western mind.


Monday, October 4, 2010

fasten your seat belts

It's been getting hot here, and I'm not just referring to the weather.

We had the "Guest Speaker" portion of AMT this week and we had three of Overland's long-time staff members speak some amazing messages. They covered a variety of in-depth teachings that I found invaluable to my understanding of our identity in Christ and a greater understanding of what this Salvation is that we have been blessed with. Some of my favorite topics were about our identity in Christ as taught out of 2 Chronicles 2 and 3 and our priestly duties to God as outlined in 2 Chronicles 29:11. We had some amazing times of worship, prayer and encouragement and even our conversations throughout the week were of great benefit. It's been great to see the events of the past week in light of what will be happening this week. Tomorrow morning we head out early to do some ministry in some remote villages in the Nyawa chiefdom in an area that the staff have been telling us about with amazing stories of the ways that God is working. This expedition will be more challenging in the realm of comfort and convenience than the first (we have a rougher truck, worse roads, no borehole or well at the camp, less room for personal gear) but it sounds like the ministry opportunities are off the charts. Please be praying for our travel since we will be bouncing around in the back of a truck for 8 hours in 100 degree heat and these roads are about as smooth as a cornfield. Above all, pray for open hearts and minds of those we will be meeting out there and that my team and I will humbly and wholly give ourselves to God for the preaching of the Gospel in every way.

We've taken the tests for the culture unit, turned in our theology papers, and gave our last messages for preaching class so next up is the Wilderness First Responder course when we get back from the bush.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Just when I thought I finished school...

I've been in Zambia for almost three weeks now but I've only just finished the first week of actual class because of the AMT orientation and the expedition. It's been quite the week and I'm glad for the rest and the change of pace that the weekend brings.

This week we finished three of the units of the overall course. In the mornings we had a theology course using the book "The Bible in the Light of Our Redemption" by E.W. Kenyon and it involved reading several chapters, thoroughly answering the questions in the book, and taking in-class quizzes every day on what we studied. Just when I thought my days of homework were behind me I've got to dive back in. We covered a lot of material out of the book and had some excellent class discussions and my knowledge and understanding of Scripture were definitely improved as a result. In the afternoons we had two of the less academically strenuous units, GPS navigation and bush cooking. GPS navigation covered the use of handheld GPS units that are used to mark the locations of remote villages and track the unmarked dirt roads (and sometimes goat paths) that our trucks use to reach them. Bush cooking sounds just like the name implies: you get to a campsite, start a fire, and cook over it for everyone in your group while making sure that you're using all the food groups and making it taste good. We covered everything that goes into planning and preparing meals for an entire expedition team and our "final exam" was to cook dinner for the entire base.

Saturday is our day off so I went down to the warehouse and got some welding projects finished and today has also been very refreshing. I went out for breakfast at a nearby hotel with two buddies and then we went to church in the village right near the base. It's lead by a local pastor that has worked with Overland for several years and I always enjoy going there.

We've got new class units coming up this week and more homework to do but we're going to Chobe National Park in Botswana next weekend for a safari so I've got something to look forward to.


The GPS coordinates of where I'm sitting are 17°58'41.98"S 25°53'8.24"E. Copy and paste into Google maps or Google Earth and take a look. We got Google to take a better image of the area so you can see individual tents, the main center, the warehouse, and footpaths of the base. You can then look me up on Yahoo messenger at and message me when you get the location.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Trucks, Goats, and God

The team and I just got back from doing ministry in some villages way out in the middle of nowhere for the last week. A good shower never felt so good.

I and 6 other Americans arrived here at the base in Zambia on Wednesday, September 1, and the whole AMT class went out to the villages on Saturday to do ministry in the Simwatechela Kingdom here in Zambia. The local people had gathered from all over the region for our large worship and preaching meetings and we also got to do hut-to-hut evangelism and encouragement, share meals together, and hold question and answer discussions around the fire. It was like nothing I've ever done before so I was kind of nervous sometimes but it was really cool so see what God did with our time there. We had people give their lives to Christ, we prayed over people for healings, and we sang and danced in worship with them around a big fire to the beat of African drums. I learned a lot about the Zambian people and about my team, and about what ministry in this part of the world looks like.

I'll give you a brief introduction to the team members that I'll be spending almost all my time with in the next three months. From the States we have Sharon, Rachel, Jackie, Regina and Wes, Trae, and Jared. From Zimbabwe we have Mordecai. There is also another couple from South Africa with their 3 kids that I have yet to meet. The arrived while the rest of us were out on expedition. We have members as young as 18 and as old as 42 and it's looking like a pretty solid group of people. Our instructors are JD and Laura and we'll have a couple more people on the base who will be helping with the course and going out on expedition with us.

So far I've already learned a lot and it looks like we're going to continue to be busy with class work as well as our daily chores around the base. I'm guessing it will continue to be a time of amazing learning and growth full of challenge and hard work. I'm just not excited about the reports of 120 degree weather coming up in October. Hopefully the rumors are exaggerated.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back in the saddle again

It's been quite a while since I wrote anything on here so I think I'll give you all a quick update with the "where," "what," "when," and perhaps "why" of my life at the moment.

Ever since I returned to Madison from Zambia in July 2009, I have been working full-time for the University of Wisconsin. I took a position in the same research lab that I had worked at while I was a student and I continued to live with my college buddies in a house near campus. My position was basically that of a lab technician and I built experiments for grad students, professors, and independent research contracts as part of the Department of Engineering Physics. It was a great job where I could fabricate things, work with really smart people, and help progress the really cool research that the UW is well known for. August 6, 2010, was my last day there.

For several months, I had been bouncing around in my head an idea about how to work with Overland Missions again because I really liked what I had done with them during my trips to Zambia and Brazil. This spring and early summer, I began seriously looking into my options and opportunities and I had some really good conversations with people in Overland's leadership as well as with people from my church community in Madison. The result of these discussions turned out to be a really good plan for leaving my job and working with Overland on a more long-term basis.

I will be flying out of Madison on August 30 to be a student in Overland's Advanced Missions Training (AMT) course located at the Rapid 14 Base near Livingstone, Zambia. This is a 12-week long course that covers a wide variety of skills and knowledge essential to working in missions, especially in remote third-world environments. I had seen (and taught) some of the engineering-related units of the course while I was volunteering on the base last summer but I will be enrolled in the course this time. I will be in AMT because I will be going on full-time staff with Overland Missions next year and I will be working out of the Zambia base. I'll have more details to share about that later.

For now, I'll be getting to know a new group of friends with whom I will be in the course and I'll be reconnecting with my buddies who are on staff at the base. I'm sure it will be a great time to learn and grow and I'll have a whole new set of adventures, friendships, and amazing stories to show for it.

Stay tuned.


p.s. for more info about Overland Missions, visit their website here