Sunday, January 8, 2012

Homeward Bound

Greetings from Zambia—for one more night!

As I pack my bags to head home tonight, I am filled with reminders of the Lord’s faithfulness to us. He has been so good to our team. It has been a busy few days and tomorrow is the day to go home.

On Saturday morning, part of our team began their journey home to America. We were sad to see them go! The rest of us, 18 to be exact, hopped on two flights to Livingstone, Zambia. After an incredibly fruitful stay in Lusaka, it was a treat to end our time in Africa with a visit to one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Our destination was the Zambezi Sun Hotel—a beautiful spot settled right next to Victoria Falls.

Livingstone is a really fun city, centered around activities that enjoy the falls and wildlife. Our team took advantage of it all! Activities for our crew included a lion/cheetah petting adventure, zip-lining, elephant riding and an early morning safari to spot animals. It was a quick trip, but it was certainly a memory for a lifetime to see Victoria Falls. They are spectacular and magnify the majesty and power of our Creator.

Tomorrow morning, the rest of our team will head towards London for an overnight. Tuesday morning, we will make our way home to Texas. Though I think we are all excited to get home and see family and friends, leaving Africa is bittersweet. This has been such a phenomenal trip. Dearest family and friends, having you on this journey with us has been such a blessing. THANK YOU for praying us through each and every step of the way. We can’t wait to tell you all about the Lord’s work in Africa. By His grace, He used this team to accomplish eternal things.

Robby and I are so proud of this team. We look forward to sharing details, pictures and memories. Thank you for entrusting us with the high privilege of walking beside these students. We are humbled and grateful.

Texas, get ready! We’re coming home!

Love from Zambia,

A New Hand

A note from Alissa…

Yesterday morning I woke up early and took ALL PCPC kids and chaperones to the airport. We had a group headed back to the states and another group going to Victoria Falls. It was sad to say goodbye to the states group because they have become such great friends. We couldn’t have asked for a better group to serve with.

After getting all musungus on their flights I headed back to our place to get ready for our day. I must admit, it is a bit easier to travel around as only one white person and not with 30!

We spent the morning in a meeting with one of our community schools discussing sponsorship and future plans. After that we grabbed a quick lunch and I met up with Benson.

Benson and I got to go visit one of the families that Arise Africa helps. The Muvela family are special friends of ours that 4 different Americans contribute monthly to assist.

We arrived at their home in the compounds and the mother had just returned from her job as a housekeeper. The kids were running around but we couldn’t find one of them, Langford. We decided to go look in the market for him because he loves watching movies there. Benson and I headed to the market with a couple of Langford’s siblings.

Now let me tell you, a white girl in the market gets lots of attention. We started hitting up all the Zambian movie theatres in the market. Imagine a tiny dark room with a TV that is about 20 inches wide with a pirated movie from somewhere. People and kids pay about 20 cents to be allowed in the room to view the movie. There are as many as 30 people in these tiny rooms standing and watching the movies.

We finally found Langford in a movie room. He was watching Rambo, yes the movie from the 80’s! Langford was reluctant to leave the movie but I bribed him by telling him I would pay for 4 movies if he would come home with us. He agreed and we headed back to the house.

Langford, was in a terrible accident as a child involving a fire. Langford suffered severe burns all over his body, especially to his hands. He received no medical attention. Both of Langford’s hands healed as clubs, leaving him with no fingers.

We have been working with CURE hospital for months trying to see if anything could be offered to Langford. This past fall, an American doctor visited CURE and along with an Italian doctor they were able to operate on one of Langford’s hands and make three fingers for him. Langford and his mother endured many weeks at CURE doing rehabilation. He was a trooper through all of the pain.
I was shocked to see the difference in Langford’s hands. He is now able to hold a pencil, grip things, feed himself, and even zip up the zipper on his jacket. Both Langford and his mother commented that it has helped him drastically in everyday life.

Benson will be going to pay school fees for the kids tomorrow and for the first time, Langford will be gripping a pencil, just like other kids in school.

We are beyond grateful for our partnerships in organizations such as CURE hospital. Without the body of Christ working together Langford would have never received such great care. We thank Langford’s USA sponsors, CURE hospital, and our Arise Africa Zambian staff for the service and love you have shown this family.

The rest of the day consisted of cleaning out homes where we have been staying and hanging out with great friends of mine that live in Zambia.

More later!

- Alissa Hollimon

Friday, January 6, 2012

Good evening from Lusaka!

Wow! What a great day it has been. We started out bright and early on the bus, heading towards the brand new Olympic Training Center. Arise Africa rented the facilities out for camp today. The children were SO excited about the adventure of riding on a bus to the training center. Some had never even been on a bus before, so this was a big deal! As they pulled into the parking lot, you could hear them coming a mile away: singing, singing, SINGING!! What joy.

Our American team prepared an entire morning of games and field day activities for the kids. To spice up some friendly competition, we divided the camp into four teams, complete with matching headbands and flags for each team. The kids thought this was hilarious—they rallied around their team and had a blast. After some chanting and cheering all together, we enjoyed playing net ball, volleyball, soccer and basketball. These sweet kids are fun to watch—they are athletic and gifted, no doubt!

After a few rotations, the entire camp gathered on the track field for an organized field day. I was so proud of our American team—they had every detail organized. Field day included an egg/spoon race, three-legged race, sack race and a relay including hopping, crab walking and spinning. Big and little kids alike thought this was so much fun. You could hear laughter and singing in every direction. The Lord really blessed our weather. Rain here and there, but followed by blue skies. From start to finish, camp has been fantastic.

By far, the hardest part of the day was saying goodbye to our precious friends. We all enjoyed lunch together and a chance to talk and pray one more time. But as the blue buses lined up, we had to hug our friends goodbye. The beauty of this week is that relationships grew fast and deep. Collectively, we have become attached to these precious kids. As a result, goodbyes are never easy. After seeing their lives and understanding their stories, it is sometimes hard to watch them leave. But we trust that the Lord will continue the work He began in each of them. At the end of the day, they belong to our Lord. Knowing that He stays with them is a beautiful and comforting thought.

Some of our team visited a cultural market after camp and enjoyed some authentic shopping. After that, we all gathered back at the Baptist Mission for a sweet time together as a group. It was awesome to process the past week together. Some moments have been incredibly sweet and others have been more difficult to process, but by God’s grace, we have been in it together. Going home is the next step and it is reassuring to remember that we take that together as well.

As a farewell and celebration of camp, we had a “fry” (or barbeque, as Texans call it). The dear Arise Africa staff joined us. What a delight to finish the week with people who are now our dear friends. We were treated to a performance by a very talented Zambian a capella group. They were phenomenal and serenaded us with beautiful Zambian songs and classics like Hakkuna Matata. We have been so blessed by the Arise Africa staff. Each and every moment of this past week was carefully planned and we are so grateful. They surprised each of us with a hand carved wooden plaque with our names on it. It is something that we will treasure for a lifetime. We introduced them to the greatness of s’mores. I think they were a hit!

When goodbyes are hard, it is evidence of a sweet friendship. Our friends here in Africa are dear and it has been an incredible week serving by their sides. As we return home, we go with our friends in our hearts and prayers. We spent a week with these children, but these leaders spend day in and out with them. The potential for impact is huge and we are encouraged to believe that the Lord is using them in tremendous ways.

Tomorrow our team will divide. Ann Carolyn and Ben are leading some home to America and the rest of us are heading to Victoria Falls! It’s sad to see the trip come to an end. What an incredible journey it has been! Friends and family, we are grateful for you. Please continue to pray for us—for travel mercies and grace to finish well. We can’t wait to tell you all about it soon.

Love from Zambia,

Thursday, January 5, 2012


The word "joy" captures camp really well. These campers are full of joy, and we can certainly see it when we're playing all kinds of games with them. I thought you'd enjoy seeing a few windows into this joy.

(Hunter Smith playing Zambian duck-duck-goose)

(Ben Williams and friends with a jump rope)

(Daniel Torres getting roughed up by his new buddies)

(Girls playing "Red Light, Green Light")

(Haley Morgan enjoying large group time with her campers)

We finished our camp at Destiny today, and we informed the kids that we'll be putting them on buses and taking them to the Olympic training center in the morning for a field day finish to our week. The crowd erupted when they heard the news. We'd appreciate prayers for a fun and safe day of playing sports and doing "field day" activities. Imagine never having a chance to go more than one mile from where you live. Many of these kids will have the adventure of their life tomorrow! We'll also have our last spiritual conversations with the campers. Pray for the Lord to guide our team members and to be with us in those hard moments of saying goodbye.

We'll keep you posted as we have more time to give updates. Thank you again for all your prayers. Our team is remarkably healthy, upbeat, and encouraged by the trip. We had a sweet time of singing together this evening, and we look forward to a great debrief time on Friday afternoon after we finish the fun day with the campers. We have so much to think about, so much to process together. Pray that the Lord would guide us to get all that he wants us to get from this trip.

"Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness." Psalm 115:1


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Picture Post

Just a few more pictures...

Wednesday on This Side of the World

Dear family and friends,

It’s Wednesday night in Zambia. We had another incredibly beautiful and surprisingly dry day here in “rainy season” Zambia. The Lord has been kind to give us the best possible atmosphere to love on these kids at camp. We even talked about Noah on Tuesday…and the rains didn’t come!

Here’s a little window into camp today. We roll into Destiny School on our big bus, and the kids are already waiting for us. Remember, it’s about 7:30am. They’re waving and hollering, so excited to see us. Some of them even try to get on the bus when the door opens, and we have to tell them to get off so we can file out and greet the crowds. All the Zambian children are looking for their American counselor. We know we’re here to love these kids, but their love for us has moved us all.

(Leslie Catherine Wrightsman with a couple of her campers)

As we round up kids in each of our groups, counselors and their Zambian partners catch up with the kids, play games, dance, laugh, etc. The Zambian children are so excited about memorizing their Bible verse each day that many students have the day’s verse memorized before we actually “introduce” it in the large group meeting around 8:30 or 8:45.

(John David Newman teaching the kids his new dance, the "wop.")

(Allie Fersing with one of her little girls)

The students march into the Destiny church building (where we worshiped on Sunday). The more groups we get in there, the louder it gets. The cheers and songs fill the place, almost like someone took the top off a Coke after shaking it really well. The energy just explodes. The Americans do their best to learn and sing the Zambian songs, and occasionally we get a song or verse in English, which is great! After singing, we have a daily lesson on faith and we introduce the day’s memory verse. So far, the kids have learned Hebrews 11:1, 2 Corinthians 5:7, and Romans 10:17. During today’s meeting, a number of students came to the front, recited all three verses, and received great encouragement and applause.

After the large group meeting, the rest of the morning consists of small group time, outside games, and inside activities like drawing. We take a snack around to the kids during the indoor activities, and we have another large group meeting before lunch. The second large group consists of more singing, some fun competitions, and a skit performed by the Zambian leaders. The kids get a real kick out of the skit, but the Americans aren’t really sure what’s going on, which is funny, too. The skits are in Nyanja, so we just enjoy the ride!

After the second large group, kids sit in their groups and have a great lunch that they really enjoy. Sitting with PBJs and a nutrient-rich drink, the kids have a chance to hang out and talk more with their leaders. Lunch breaks pretty quickly, though, as kids are excited to get back into their games at Destiny. The play continues until we have to call it a day, and the next challenge is trying to figure out how to say goodbye and shut things down. Truly, we could go until sundown and these kids would still be going strong.

(Our team after camp at Destiny today)

As camp winds down, our team spreads out to different places where we serve in the afternoons. Ann has already mentioned Mother Teresa’s orphanage and the Buseco Market. Today our group went to “The Midge,” an affectionate name for another school in the area. We spent three hours in that area today. Some girls read to students in the three-room schoolhouse. Some boys played soccer out in the small yard, but the potholes and other obstacles didn’t slow these little guys down. The Americans had trouble holding onto the ball as all the Zambian boys ran circles around them. Megan, our friend who works for Arise Africa, gave us a walking tour of the city, but we were not alone. An army of little kids followed us the whole way. Many of the children grab an American hand and hold it the whole way. I had a little guy on either hand, and though I never felt in danger walking through the city, there’s something powerful about having a couple little boys escorting you around.

(Walking the streets with our little army)

Our friend Patson runs “The Midge,” and before we left, he shared the story of the school with us. Patson told us that he had “failed” in his education, but that he longed to help others to get an education. About ten years ago he tried to start by helping adults pursue an education. Again, he said he failed. He committed to praying and asking the Lord to give him a sense for what he could do. The Lord gave Patson a word. “You can’t change the past, but you can change the future.” Patson turned his attention to the next generation and has been helping children get a better education for eight years. In the most recent turn, his school hosted 78 students in the three rooms. If you think of Patson tonight, pray that God would provide more resources to hire new teachers and pay current ones. He’s doing a great work, and we were encouraged to hear about it.

(Robert Cannon at "The Midge")

I know this is a long entry, but hopefully it paints the picture. Thursday will be our last “normal” day of camp. Don’t tell the Zambian children (wink), but on Friday, Arise Africa will bus them to the new Olympic training facility in Lusaka. There we will try to give them the most fun field day they could ever imagine. Considering the fact that they’ve probably never even seen a beautiful turf field, I think there’s a good chance we’ll have an amazing time. On Thursday afternoon, our team will plan out all the activities for Friday.

Please pray that our team members would know how to encourage the kids in their group as they have conversations on Thursday. We would all love to give them the world, but we know the best we can give them is Jesus. We are so grateful for your prayers.

Grace and peace,
Robby Higginbottom

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Light in the Darkness

Good evening from Zambia!

The Lord has been so gracious to us with this weather. Today was another BEAUTIFUL day in Zambia. Bright blue skies with puffs of clouds scattered all around—such a blessing. AND another opportunity to practice sun safety with sunscreen. Our crew is a little red (some are really red), but learning to manage and share Aloe Vera.

Camp was awesome today. There’s something beautiful about getting to do camp on the second day. We didn’t feel as “new,” and things seemed to run with more efficiency. Contained chaos. As our bus pulled into the school grounds today, we were greeted by a crowd of jumping, smiling, and chanting children. They surrounded the bus and swarmed each American as we hopped off. That is a moment I never want to forget. Such unconditional, overflowing love. My sister Ellen once told me that my life would never be the same after I met a Zambian orphan. She was so right. I think everyone on our team would agree.

At camp today we continued our lessons on faith. We played games (Red Rover) and sang songs. These children LOVE to sing and dance. Sometimes I would stop singing, just so I could hear their voices. Surely, this is a picture of eternity with our Lord. The second day of camp is also really sweet because the children seem different. They are not apprehensive about “camp” and a strange group of “white people from America.” It is almost like watching a wall crumble to the ground. The demeanor of camp today was full of resounding joy—Zambians and Americans alike! As the children warm up to us, they also begin to share more about their stories. This is sometimes very real and challenging to hear. Zambia is filled with poverty, hopelessness and diseases that affect every single person. BUT (there is always a but), Jesus is Lord. And that changes everything for these children. Just like His Lordship changes everything for us back home in Dallas. So as we process these heart wrenching stories, please pray that we would not lose sight of the gospel and that we would be arrows pointing heavenward. These children need Jesus. Just like us.

As camp ended around 12:30, our team divided into our family groups for afternoon activities. We are on a three-stop rotation. Today, my family group visited the Buseco Market. Buseco is an area of Lusaka that is known for it’s lumber production. It is also renowned for a community of homes that are made of plastic tarps. Walking through Buseco is a dark experience, to say the least. Of all the poverty that we have seen in Lusaka, Buseco is really on a totally different level.

Our small family of seven was accompanied by our dear Zambian friends, Isaac and Omega. They stuck by our sides the entire way, just for safety measures. As I have explained before, white people tend to create a stir here. We walked through the community of plastic homes and were immediately swarmed by precious faces. There is an incredible beautiful innocence to these children. They grabbed our hands and proudly walked us through their home village. We stopped at one specific home, where a young boy from camp lives. His mother was gracious enough to invite us into their home.

As I folded back the plastic tarp door, I ducked to fit inside. Leaving the bright afternoon behind, I stepped into a dark hole, completely void of light. No electricity. I didn’t need to take another step. Everything was right there before me—the bedroom and the kitchen. This was the home to a family of nine people. The black tarp blocked out every ray of light, but I could tell that even the roof above me was made of plastic. It is the beginning of rainy season in Zambia. I cannot comprehend what Buseco must look like with rain.

Visiting Buseco will certainly leave a mark on my mind forever. One team member said it best, “I could never even imagine something that bad…and yet it was even worse.” It is heart breaking to see. And yet, we have hope in Jesus, who redeems even the darkest corners of the earth. Light shines in the darkness and always wins. Always. So as we walked away, I had to remind myself of these truths. We came to Zambia to walk in their shoes and learn their stories. And at the end of it all, give them Jesus. Lord willing, that is exactly what we are doing. And that is precisely why visiting Buseco Market will be one of the most powerful images in my lifetime. I am certain that my teammates would say the same thing.

The evening routine was normal tonight—fantastic pizza from a local mall and sweet team time as boys and as girls. Six of us, however, had a unique experience together. A group of girls (Ann, Ellen, Haley, Ann Carolyn, Adrienne and Meredith) went with Megan from Arise Africa to a Zambian Zumba class. Let me just say this: it was the BEST Zumba class I have ever taken. And I know Zumba! We had a blast and got quite a work out! Zambians know how to rock it. What a fun, funny experience! I never thought I’d be doing Zumba in Zambia!

Friends, thank you for praying us through another day. We feel carried. And we need it! It is easy to begin to feel tired at this point. But the Lord is gracious enough to give us mercies every morning. That is a mercy I rely on each and every day.

We love you all,

Monday, January 2, 2012

First Day of Camp!

Friends and family back home,

Please note: two updates today! So keep reading ☺

This evening, I am reporting in on behalf of a very tired, happy and slightly sun-burned team! What a day this has been! Today was the first day of our “routine” while we are here in Zambia. It was the first day of camp! This is a bit of a long update, but hopefully, it will give you a window into our week!

Our morning started bright and early at 7:10am when we met at the bus. Camp will be held every day at Destiny School, where we visited Saturday and Sunday. We have come to know and love the community of children around Destiny, so showing up there each day feels like home.

In case you are curious, we travel in a large blue bus. Arise Africa owns several buses that serve the public bus route in between mission trips. A big blue bus, billowing with white, cheerful faces is quite a sight to behold in Africa! As our bus pulled into Destiny, children started pouring in. By 8:45, camp was under way. Each of our team members has been paired with a wonderful Zambian partner and assigned a group of children for the week. This morning was the first time we got to meet them. I can say with certainly that everyone quickly fell in love with their groups—boys and girls of all ages, 5-15.

Camp this week is based on the theme of “Faith.” So our time today centered on Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we can not see.” We worked with our children, with the assistance of our Zambian partners, to explain the significance of this passage and work on memorization. We used games to demonstrate acts of faith, such as the “trust fall,” which was a huge hit with the kids!

The Zambian children refer to Americans as “Aunt” and “Uncle.” So Uncle Robby worked with our dear Zambian friend Uncle Bwayla to lead the large group time. Our team learned new Zambian songs and dances—you should see the way that the children watch our team! They think we are hilarious as we sing and dance along!

Camp concluded with a lunch for all—peanut butter and jelly! Even though camp officially ended at 12:00, the children stayed around to play some more. What joy! So the festivities continued until our team had to move on.

Each afternoon this week, our team is divided into four groups to visit other ministries in Lusaka. We will see three very different locations this week, following our rotation. I will talk you through each stop according to what my group sees. This afternoon, my small group went to the Mother Teresa Home for Children. This is an orphanage run by Catholic Nuns in the middle of Lusaka. It was incredible. The orphanage is settled behind a guarded gate and covered in cool shade trees. Children are running everywhere—and they were thrilled to welcome us as guests. Our team divided up to love on the 76 children who call this place home. A nursery of over 40 babies was the first stop. After carefully washing our hands, we scooped up precious babies and took them to front porch to play. The children at Mother Teresa’s are there for varying reasons—some are orphaned, others have been removed from high-risk situations. Whatever the reason, these children are cared for and love by this amazing ministry. My group was really moved by the opportunity to show love to these precious kids. Boys played soccer and ran outside—most of the girls never left the nursery. We are all looking forward to returning for another afternoon at Mother Teresa’s later this week!

What a tremendous blessing it is to have such delicious meals prepared for the end of the day! Tonight we enjoyed spaghetti and garlic bread, salad and brownies. Alissa and her Arise Africa team have thought of every detail for our trip and we are immensely grateful.

I mentioned it at the beginning and it is true—we are a sunburned crew this evening! Pink faces, tired bodies and full hearts—what delight. I know our entire team joins me in saying, THANK YOU for praying. THANK YOU for sending us. THANK YOU for joining our team. We couldn’t be here without you. Tomorrow is another day of camp, and we can hardly wait!

Our love from Zambia,

Longings Fulfilled

It was an amazing feeling when I finally saw Hope. She walked into church, her bright smile lighting up the entire room. I watched as my sister, Ellen, went running towards her. Hope came running towards Ellen with the same excitement. I knew immediately: THIS must be Hope. The girl I have prayed for. The girl I have longed to meet for such a long time. This must be Hope.

On Sunday, John, Robby and I had the privilege of meeting a young Zambian named Hope. Hope came into our family in 2010 when she befriended my younger sister, Ellen. Since that summer, I have thought and prayed for Hope as though she were already a dear friend, even a family member. Like many children in Zambia, Hope’s life hasn’t been easy. In fact, when Ellen met her in 2010, life seemed hopeless for this child. As Ellen learned her story, she was moved to take action on behalf of a little girl she barely knew. Ellen wanted to fight for Hope.

Hope’s story paints a stunning picture of the gospel and also the Lord’s work through my sister and Arise Africa. After a long journey, Hope now lives under the safety and security of Arise. This ministry has fought for Hope. My sister and Clayton have fought for Hope. Many of you have PRAYED and fought for Hope. I wrote a book based on Hope. And on Sunday, I finally got to meet her. This girl is amazing. I sat next to her at church as she sang and worshipped the Lord. She loves Jesus. She loves people. She adores my sister. A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul. My longing was to meet Hope. How sweet.

Hope is one of many, many children who have been blessed by Arise Africa. Goodson is another one. Ellie Lewis is on our team and she came with a similar longing: she wanted to meet Goodson, the boy she has been sponsoring through Arise. I watched as Ellie got to meet Goodson and his family for the first time. I know what a sweet moment that was for Ellie.

Friends, lives are being changed in Zambia. And it has nothing to do with US…it has everything to do with the Lord. But what a sweet privilege it is to get to play a role. Longings are being fulfilled here this week—and it’s happening through the beautiful lives of children like Hope and Goodson.

It’s so good to be back.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Getting Ready for Camp

Dear friends,

The night is winding down in Lusaka. Here are just a few thoughts from this evening.

There is some great Tex-Mex in Zambia. Our team had an incredible meal at a local restaurant. The place was supposed to be closed tonight, but they opened up just for us. Everything was going smoothly. We had finished eating. Then Alissa surprised John David Newman with a millipede. It was one of those "close your eyes and open your hands" moments, and John David was a trooper. He did great, but all the girls screamed at the sight. With the millipede on the loose, it was time to get the check and head for the bus!

Back at the Baptist Mission, the team heard all about camp. Each of our team members will have 10 children and a Zambian Christian as a ministry partner. Tonight we learned the kids' names and started making name tags and getting ready for day one tomorrow. If you do the math, that's 260 children who will join us for camp. I love the thought that 260 people may experience love and compassion like they have never felt before. We want to know their stories and point them to the hope that we have found in Christ.

We finished the night singing and praying together. We started with "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" and eventually ended with "It Is Well With My Soul," two songs that hit us right where we are. Thanks for praying for us. Pray that we would rest in God's love for us. Pray that he would remind us that he's with us as we dive in tomorrow.

It's around 11pm here, and we'll be on the buses to go to camp by 7:10am tomorrow morning. Time to get some sleep!

Grace and peace,
Robby Higginbottom

Meeting the kids and Worshipping the Lord

Greetings from Zambia, friends!

Since arriving in Lusaka, we hit the ground running. Saturday (yesterday), was a long day for our team. We all battled to stay awake all day…and then crashed at the end of it! We welcomed in the New Year at 8:30 pm.

I wish I could paint a picture of our team from yesterday. We went into the heart of Lusaka, to Destiny school, which sits next to a community. I stood back and watched in awe as our students spread out in a community, looking for children to interact with. As news spread through the streets, children with bright smiles came running. Within minutes, we had a full-blown playgroup. Guys had kids hanging off of each arm and the girls were quickly whisked away for games and dancing. I followed as much as I could with my camera, so hopefully, we can give you a window into the fun. For the next 3 hours, the grounds of Destiny School were filled with laughter, running and excited singing. I was blown away by our team—it was so encouraging to watch them embrace these precious kids from Zambia. What a beautiful foretaste to the week ahead!

We enjoyed an early dinner, prepared especially for us—chicken fingers, French fries, watermelon, salad and brownies! After a short small group session, everyone disappeared to the cabins. According to the leaders, there was not a peep after 8:30—sound asleep to welcome in 2012! Through out the night, we heard Zambia ringing in the New Year with fireworks.

Sunday morning, we were a different team—refreshed by sleep! We were invited to join Pastor Peter and his church for worship at Destiny. What an experience! It’s beautiful and humbling to witness the worship of our God in a different country. Americans were scattered among Zambians, children were bouncing from lap to lap, and the Lord was praised. It was awesome to see! Zambians worship through song, dance, prayer and God’s Word. Our teamed jumped right in!

We also had our first taste of Zambian rainy season. Today we have had spurts of some big rain. After church, we went together back to the Arcades for lunch and shopping in the street market…and in the pouring rain! The market is filled with wonderful, handmade items. Shopping is also an awesome opportunity to get to know some people from the community. I’m not sure that the rain deterred the shoppers! We all found some great finds to bring back to the states.

This evening, we will take a leap of faith by enjoying some authentic Zambian Mexican food. We’ll see how our Tex/Mex tastes approve of how it’s done in Africa! I will report in tomorrow.

Friends and family, THANK YOU for praying. I can’t say that enough. We feel carried and loved by each of you. Tomorrow will be our first day of camp. Please pray for a great start as we look to be used by the Lord for big, eternal things. Our team is excited and would love your prayers. Robby and I remain SO PROUD of this group. It has been awesome to watch them love each other and the people the Lord puts in their path. We love you and look forward to sharing each and every detail upon return.

Our love and thanks to you all,