Expect the Unexpected!

Our final week in Zambia turned out a bit differently than we expected, which, we have learned through the years, is to be expected! 

Percy Muleba had arranged training for us with two of our former students, both of whom are planting churches, Pastors Imasiku and John Zulu. For a variety of reasons, both had to cancel at the last minute, leaving several evenings free. 

Still, we had two days of training planned with our GTN colleague, Doug Dorman (Myrtle Beach) and his team. Doug has spent the last three years working with Ken Buckner of Come Go With Us ministry to train a group of Tonga (Zambian tribe) pastors, and he had asked us to sit in on his final two days of training and give him feedback based on our experience. 

We really enjoyed helping Doug and his team, and we came away with some helpful tools to complement our training. It was a worthwhile two days. We'll likely see Doug and his wife, Joan, in May when we return to debrief some more.  

Unexpectedly, it turns out that one of the men Doug and Ken have been training was an old fried and former student of ours, Pastor Arnold Mudenda. Arnold pastors a Wesleyan church in Mwandi, Zambia and was, for many years, the project Director of the Orphans and Vulnerable Children's  project there. We had trained Arnold in church planting, among other things, and I had led Bible studies for his members, and preached at his church a number of times through the years. What an unexpected, and very pleasant surprise to see his face among the students! It had been 3-4 years since we'd seen each other. 

 

 

 

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"We have a gap of understanding between you and me."

We were on our way from the small village of Nangweshi, Zambia to Katima Mulilo, Namibia and had finally, after 20+ kilometers of dirt two-track and gravel roads, found the blacktop. Our driver, a young Congolese physics teacher named James, accelerated and began to relax, but a bit too soon. Up ahead was a police barrier, not an uncommon sight in Zambia, and we were being told to stop.

James muttered under his breath, and we all just shook our heads. Zambian police are always looking for some small infraction which they then offer to settle on the spot, if you catch my drift. James got out of the vehicle, followed a few minutes later by our dear friend, Percy.  

Some ten minutes later, they returned. I asked if a settlement had been reached, expecting yes for an answer. But, James laughed and said, "No way I was paying. I had no infraction." Surprised, I asked him how he'd pulled it off. He said that he had, after arguing back and forth, simply told the policeman, "We have a gap of understanding between you and me!"  I just laughed and laughed. 

A gap of understanding between you and me! My new favorite African phrase!  

When we're training in the bush, gaps of understanding happen all the time: Lozi to English...British English to American English...Zambian village culture to American suburban culture, and the list goes on and on... 

As Percy says, "We both speak English, but we speak a different language!" 

Thats why it's so important to take our time when we train, to return again and again, and to build trust with our students. Questions arise all the time, many based on the content of our curriculum, but many others based on language and cultural differences. When we train, we do not want to leave any gaps of understanding between our students and us! 

As we pulled back onto the blacktop and accelerated, I wondered what "gaps of understanding" we'd face during our Phase 2 training at our next destination, Katima Mulilo, Namibia...

Please continue praying for our students and us, especially for good health, safe travels, strong relationships, transformative training, and as few "gaps" as possible! 

The colors of Zambia make my heart sing! 

The colors of Zambia make my heart sing! 

Pastor Titus Njamba holds his son, Douglas (Dougie), my namesake. 

Pastor Titus Njamba holds his son, Douglas (Dougie), my namesake. 

What a joy it is to train with our dear friend and GTN colleague, Percy Muleba! 

What a joy it is to train with our dear friend and GTN colleague, Percy Muleba! 

When there's a fork in the road, take it! 

When there's a fork in the road, take it! 

At $7.00/night for our room, you don't really expect fresh sheets and a turndown service, especially on a daily basis. But that's what we received in Nangweshi!  

At $7.00/night for our room, you don't really expect fresh sheets and a turndown service, especially on a daily basis. But that's what we received in Nangweshi!  

We'll miss our dear friends in Nangweshi, like Pastor Martin Ilukena, pictured here with Abby. 

We'll miss our dear friends in Nangweshi, like Pastor Martin Ilukena, pictured here with Abby.