Under A Tree Is the Best Place to Be!

The plan was simple. We'd leave Mongu, Zambia by 10am on Monday and get to Nangweshi, Zambia by 1pm, or 13 hrs as they say here. But, this is Africa, and one new tire, several stops to pick up items for our driver’s friends in Nangweshi, some loose lugnuts, a return to Mongu to have them tightened, a cold Coke and a few cookies later, we were finally on our way at 3pm (or 15 hrs)!

Well, it was worth it, to say the least. We drove into Nangweshi as a beautiful sunset unfolded, checked into our lovely lodge ($24/day for two rooms, meals included, with daily cleaning & turn-down service), and began teaching the next day. It’s been a truly fabulous week!

We're teaching Phase IV to students who have now become friends. We’ve spent, cumulatively, thirty-five days with them since 2017. This is our last round of training, and it's definitely a little bittersweet.

Abby's teaching on “The Christian Family,” and I’m focusing on “Church Planting.” As always, Percy Muleba has been doing a terrific job leading worship, translating, and directing us. The material has come together beautifully, and is challenging our students to the core.

Yesterday was Percy's forty-first birthday, and the class threw him a party in the afternoon. We had juice, crisps (potato chips), and biscuits (cookies), read a short Scripture, sang, and danced a lot. It was a blast! Happy birthday, Percy! We love you!

Please continue praying for us as we preach in different churches tomorrow, then resume training on Monday morning. Wednesday, we drive 3 hours to Katima Mulilo, Namibia where we'll teach Phase III to one group, Phase I to a new group, and meet with some Bushmen pastors in Chetto (2 hours drive) to discuss future training. It will be a full 2.5 weeks.

As always, we're so very grateful for your love and support. Where we go, you go with us!

We were disappointed when we were delayed leaving Mongu, but we sure enjoyed this beautiful sunset as we drove into nangweshi. Disappointment…His appointment!

We were disappointed when we were delayed leaving Mongu, but we sure enjoyed this beautiful sunset as we drove into nangweshi. Disappointment…His appointment!

Under a tree is the best place to train, especially during a heat wave. The shade is wonderful, and when the breezes come, as they did the last two days, it’s so refreshing.

Under a tree is the best place to train, especially during a heat wave. The shade is wonderful, and when the breezes come, as they did the last two days, it’s so refreshing.

WE'RE so proud to know such awesome zambian men! L to R: Percy, Martin, Sylvester, titus, and sitali, amazing pastors all!

WE'RE so proud to know such awesome zambian men! L to R: Percy, Martin, Sylvester, titus, and sitali, amazing pastors all!

The trees here are incredible, ESPECIALLY when mixed with the beautiful African light.

The trees here are incredible, ESPECIALLY when mixed with the beautiful African light.

A Future with Promise!

Sometimes things work out much better than you thought they would. When we arrived in Mongu, Zambia to discover that fifty students awaited us, we were concerned. Our strategy is to work with small groups, typically no more than fifteen or so. We believe that when it comes to discipleship training, small groups work best.

We quickly adapted to the situation, as I mentioned in my previous blog, and the week went very, very well.

On Sunday afternoon, we enjoyed a celebration service with our students, several of whom shared what they had learned during the week. We were pleasantly surprised at their grasp of the material, especially because we had covered so much so quickly.

Earlier in the week, on Thursday, we had enjoyed lunch with the leaders of New Vine who had invited us to Mongu, and cast vision with them for intensive training of a small group of selected students from multiple churches beginning next year. To our delight, they responded enthusiastically, and we agreed to begin intensive training over 2-3 years starting next April and August.

We so appreciate New Vine's vision and leadership, and look forward to working with them in 2020 and beyond.

Thanks, as always, for your prayers, encouragement, and financial support. Without you, we would not be here. With you, we are a great team. Where we go, you go.

Please continue praying as we begin training next in Nangweshi, Zambia, a bush village where we have trained three times before. We'll spend ten days there focusing on church planting (Doug), the Christian family (Abby), and biblical worship (Percy).

We enjoyed a great lunch with new vine leadership (L to R: Nama, Esther, jonathan, Patrick, Dan, and honorable who took the photo). we agreed to begin intensive training with their key leaders in 2020.

We enjoyed a great lunch with new vine leadership (L to R: Nama, Esther, jonathan, Patrick, Dan, and honorable who took the photo). we agreed to begin intensive training with their key leaders in 2020.

Sunday morning, abby taught at the vineyard church on the subject of “love on the frontline,” encouraging the congregation lovingly to share their faith on their frontline, the place where they spend most of their time, whether at home, work, school or…what’s your frontline?

Sunday morning, abby taught at the vineyard church on the subject of “love on the frontline,” encouraging the congregation lovingly to share their faith on their frontline, the place where they spend most of their time, whether at home, work, school or…what’s your frontline?

Mrs. Mundia, the mother of new vine founder, yuyi mundia, and the vineyard congregation listen raptly to abby's teaching.

Mrs. Mundia, the mother of new vine founder, yuyi mundia, and the vineyard congregation listen raptly to abby's teaching.

I saw this gnarled tree on the way to training one afternoon and hurried back during a break to photograph it at sunset.

I saw this gnarled tree on the way to training one afternoon and hurried back during a break to photograph it at sunset.

Doing Things A Little Differently!

When we arrived in Mongu, Zambia we were startled to discover that our host, New Vine Yourh Fellowship, had gathered fifty youth leaders from seventeen area churches. Why startled? Well, because we prefer to teach sixteen or fewer students so that we can maintain a small group dynamic during our training. And, that’s the size group we trained last year in Mongu.

It’s a general truism that large groups are great for celebration and medium sized groups for information, but small groups are best for transformation. And, transformation is our goal.

But, this is Africa (TIA), so we have adapted, using a combination of lecture, interactive large group exercises, and small group breakouts. It seems to be working because we’ve had a great week!

The students (mostly twenty-somethings) have been committed, engaged, curious, teachable, and, as you might expect with youth leaders, a whole lot of fun.

We’ve been using our “Discovering My S.H.A.P.E. for Ministry” curriculum, adapted (and augmented) from Rick Warren's Saddleback Church curriculum of a similar name. S stands for spiritual gifts, H for heart, A for abilities, P for personality, and E for experiences. It’s a great way to help us, as Christians, discover how the Lord has uniquely created us, and how this provides insight into how the Lord wants to use us in ministry and mission.

This makes for a fantastic church retreat, by the way, if you’re interested. Just let us know in the comments below and we can chat when we return to the USA.

Today, we finish up our training, then tomorrow we worship with the Vineyard Church in the morning, and celebrate with the youth leaders and their youth groups in the afternoon. (By the way, here in Zambia, the term youth refers to the age span of late teen to thirty-five or so.) It'll be an awesome celebration with multiple praise choirs, a lot of dancing, and preaching. We wish you could be here with us!

Thank you for praying for us, and for standing with us financially. We are only able to be here because of you!

This week we're training 50 youth leaders from 17 churches in Mongu, Zambia.

This week we're training 50 youth leaders from 17 churches in Mongu, Zambia.

Small group breakouts make a huge difference!

Small group breakouts make a huge difference!

Mongu, Zambia is the seat of Western Province.

Mongu, Zambia is the seat of Western Province.

Zambia & Namibia Are Calling!

Seven weeks…Five locations…Six student groups… And we can’t wait! We can't wait to see our dear friend, Percy Muleba, and his family. We can't wait to reunite with old friends in Livingstone, Mongu, Nangweshi and Musokotwane, Zambia, and Katima Mulilo, Namibia. And we can't wait to make new friends among the Kalahari Bushmen in Chetto, Namibia.

Our schedule (subject to change) looks like this:

July 24: Depart for Livingstone, Zambia

July 26 - 28: Livingstone, Zambia

July 29 - August 4: Mongu, Zambia

August 5 - 13: Nangweshi, Zambia

August 14 - September 1: Katima Mulilo, Namibia

August 19 - 23: Day trips to Chetto, Namibia

September 2 - 10: Livingstone, Zambia

September 3 - 7: Day trips to Musokotwane, Zambia

September 11: Depart for home

September 12: Home again

Its exciting to be going, but it’s equally exciting that you will be going with us as we travel on the wings of your financial support and prayers. What an amazing team you are!

I’ll post blogs whenever I can, so check back. And be sure to check out my Instagram page @dougvinez.

Thank you for loving us so well! And keep praying!

We can't wait to train our amazing students!