End of our Assignment
I cant believe that we are going to start the final week of our assignment. The 3 months have just flown by. We are so happy that Jehovah has allowed us to come here and be two of the hundreds of volunteers that came to assist in this volunteer project. There is still a few weeks left of plastering. Then the Electricians and Plumbers will be set loose inside the building. The Painters have already started painting parts of the outside and inside. I can honestly tell you that I could not have worked this hard, if it were in exchange for money.
Since we have arrived, we have made so many good friends and even a few great friends.
Even though we came here to do Plastering and got to go on Safari and tent camp, we found 98% of our joy in the Service work, Meetings and in visiting with the local Brothers. We were privileged spend much time in Service, visit a few different Congregations, conduct Bible studies with a few, to give a few meeting parts each, give morning worship comments and be a part of the Monday family Watchtower study panel. We visited with Brothers and Sisters from Sweden, Norway, England, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Zimbabwe, Malawian, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa and many other countries. We were able to listen to and visit with Missionaries, District Overseers and just normal Brothers and Sisters give their experiences of working in banned countries like; Zaire and Congo (Bro. & Sis Sharp are mentioned in this years Yearbook); Malawi during the ghastly persecution of the Brothers; life in Refugee camps; being arrested by governments for being a Witness; kidnapped by rebels and threatened with execution; Brothers escape from Malawi, Rwanda and Congo, setting up and attending some of the 65 annual District conventions in Zambia, also the Kingdom Hall construction teams and so many other experiences… I wish I could remember them all but it is like a large meal that in the morning you wonder how you ate so much.
The need for the Kingdom that Jesus prayed to his Father for, in Luke 11:2, is so so needed. Living in the States you see the need for an end to sickness, death, violence and sin yet being here and seeing young people die to malaria, tuberculosis and of course AIDS, the need seems so much more desperate. In a few weeks I will turn 34 in a country with an average life span of 36. The horrible part is that it is only getting worse. If you ask the Zambian government about the Aids outbreak they report it is at 25% HIV infection rate of the population. Think of that…. 25% of an entire country has an incurable deadly disease. The Governments of Africa lie about the infection rate because they don’t want to scare the World and have countries and investors pull out…. if you ask the Doctors here (which I did) or even the World Health Organization (WHO is a part of the UN) the rate of HIV infection for Zambia it is 65% and Zambia is not even the highest country in Africa in infection rate either.
I wont even touch the political instability and wars that affect half of the countries in Africa, the civil wars that are quietly fought or rebel factions that terrorize whole parts of this side of the world. When you pray, please keep in mind the local Brothers and Sisters in Africa. They struggle with things that you and I cant even comprehend, yet do it with more Joy, Love and Peace than I thought humanly possible.
The Truth has taken hold in Africa and is growing at an amazing rate, every Brother and Sister I have talked with has had 3 or more Bible studies…without exception. In many areas the only proper buildings not made of mud and straw are Kingdom Halls. At police checkpoints we are asked for Bibles and Watchtowers. You fill your back pack up with literature to go in service and within an hour you are out. The Brothers have a hard time getting enough literature up here to Zambia. I can’t tell you how many times I have had great conversations or return visits in service and when asked for a Bible, Require brochure or other literature unable to fill their need. It breaks my heart.
As I wrap up this email I could send you a picture of the project before we got here and now or some pictures of some African animals or maybe some of the beautiful country side but looking back that’s not the reason we are here. Let me show you why Jehovah allowed us to come;
We leave on Feb 10 from our assignment here in Zambia. We would love to spend more time here but the government will not allow us to stay in the country any longer. Our flight home leaves from Jo-berg, South Africa on the 18th of March, so in the mean time we will travel to Tanzania to do some hiking around Kilimanjaro then take the bus (as we don’t have enough money to fly) down to South Africa. We have been accepted to visit and stay at every Branch on the way south. We will keep this Branch informed of our movements, just to be on the safe side. We will be traveling with small backpacks and will probably not have access to email but if we get an opportunity, we will drop you guys a line.
Tamara and I feel so privileged to have been asked to come and give a small part of our time and effort here in Africa. The assistance and support that our Friends and Family have provided has not only made this possible but proved to me that Jesus’ words are true in John 13:34-35
I am giving YOU a new commandment, that YOU love one another; just as I have loved YOU, that YOU also love one another. 35 By this all will know that YOU are my disciples, if YOU have love among yourselves.
Thanks for letting Tamara and I share our experiences with you.