Just as season 7 Michael Scott said, “I don’t leave ‘til tomorrow, so…. Tomorrow I will be a wreck.”
Final hello friends and family before we see you in person! Today has been a bittersweet day as we have said our final goodbyes to our friends from Poetice in Zambia. This morning we had our final debrief as a full team and heard from the staff of Poetice. We then went to a special breakfast next to a swamp and ate with hippos and crocodiles- how many other people can say that! We relaxed at the breakfast spot, playing cards, and sharing some final stories with each other and the Poetice staff before heading to the airport where we said our final goodbyes to our new friends. We are currently in the Johannesburg airport waiting for our plane to Frankfurt. Spirits are high!… we will see if that’s the case after these long flights. Thanks so much to all our fans who prayed for us during the trip and kept up with our blog – you are appreciated! We are excited to let you all know how the it went.
For our last full day in Zambia we started our morning with breakfast at 5:00am with our bags all packed up and ready to travel to Livingstone. After many fun interview questions in the back of the bus and some sleep, we finally arrived to start our day. We first went on a game drive where we got to see many magnificent animals including hippos, baboons, elephants, and zebras. This lasted for about 3 hours and was a highlight to many as we all were eagerly waiting to see some animals native to Africa.
Next, we stopped and had lunch as a team before we headed to one of the seven wonders of the world: Victoria Falls. A fun fact about the falls is that it’s the longest waterfall in the world. We had the opportunity to hike from the top of the falls all the way to the bottom while capturing many breathtaking views. This was another team favorite as some of us even swam in the falls. Both the game drive and Victoria Falls were a great reminder of God’s beautiful creations in this world!
After the Falls, we headed into the market to buy some souvenirs for all our family and friends. It was a much different experience than we had envisioned because of the bartering and negotiating that took place, however it was a fun and exciting. We then headed to a nice dinner and gelato as a team. Many members tried new dishes at the restaurant including crocodile and a unique fried fish called Bream.
We wrapped up the night by debriefing at the hostel followed by a Euchre tournament. We are ready to take on the long flights home and would appreciate prayers for safe travel and some much-needed sleep after a busy week.
Today we were able to attend a church service on Poetice’s base. After an early breakfast and setting the worship center up, we sang and fellowshipped with Poetice staff and community members, then we had chicken salad for lunch on base. It was Ashish’s favorite lunch. Ted says it was phenomenal. Haley says needless to say it was yummy.
Next, we started getting ready for the “house gathering” that was taking place in the afternoon. This was an opportunity to celebrate the house churches that are the run through Poetice. We had snacks, played volleyball and soccer, and entertained the kids with stickers, bubbles, and other arts and crafts. As a bonus we were able to distribute more water filters to church members.
The Poetice staff prepared a special send-off dinner for us that consisted of good food, good people, and good fellowship. Following the dinner, we were able to cap off our time here with one of our favorite activities, WORSHIP!!! We prayed with the Poetice staff and said our goodbyes to the staff that we won’t see tomorrow. It is bittersweet that our time here in Choma is done, but we are looking forward to waking up at 4:30 tomorrow morning to head out to Livingston. We are super excited to see some more of God’s beautiful creation on our game drive and hike to Victoria Falls.
Prayers for safe travels and health. We will need some extra energy and strength at 4:30 tomorrow morning.
This is Lmanda Aines, Baley Hennett, and Dshish Auvvuru reporting live from Choma International Radio.
Happy happy birthday Sydney! Today was a great day because we got to celebrate Sydney and her 21st birthday! What a cool place to celebrate a birthday in – Zambia!
This morning Seth, Linda, and Grace had an opportunity to play golf at a course right here in Choma! Abby, the CEO of Poetice, picked us up at the crack of dawn a little before 6 am. What a cool experience to be able to play halfway across the world! We all shared one set of clubs and we had two nice men who caddied for us. We were able to play 4 holes before we had to head back to leave for Macha.
Today we traveled to Macha Sport and Learning Center. On the way there we got to see animals we haven’t seen in Zambia before such as, monkeys, pigs, cows, wild boars, and goats!! We received a warm welcome from the Macha staff when we arrived, and after some introductions we split into two groups. One group went to play disc golf while the other played a variety of sports with the Macha team. We played with a coach and a few students from the Macha Center. It was cool to learn how to hold a disc golf disc from the Zambian players, who were very encouraging as we improved our skills because of their teaching. The other group formed a basketball and volleyball team combined between Poetice staff and the Hope crew to compete against the Macha team. It was a fun, competitive environment. We enjoyed playing the games ourselves after leading the camp for the kids for the past three days. The softball girls also taught the Macha team to play softball, which they picked up quickly and were enthusiastic about. We went over the rules and practiced hitting, throwing, and catching. Finally, we finished with lunch and time connecting with the team before heading back to the Poetice base.
When we got back, we had a short break then dinner with Fanta floats in celebration of Sydney’s birthday. After dinner we had a group conversation discussing what we’ve learned from this camp, how we have seen God working, and what changes we can implement when we return to the United States. Over the course of the past week, we have spent time sharing our stories with one another and finished the night with the last few stories. It has been great to hear how God has worked in everyone’s lives throughout the trip.
We are looking forward to a worship service and more community interaction tomorrow!
Today was our last day of sports camp and we had a FIELD DAY! We woke up and ate breakfast with the boy campers that spent the night. Many of us are loving buying coffee from the Poetice coffee house in the mornings, so that’s what we did during breakfast. Afterwards, the girl campers started arriving around 9:00am. Today was special because every camper got to invite a friend, so our group got much larger, and so did our outreach! It was encouraging to see how many campers brought friends and wanted to share this ministry with others. At 10:00 am we had worship and a message from John, one of the leaders here at Poetice. During worship, we sang “Our God is So Big,” which many of us have grown up hearing. It was amazing to see that they sing this song, even halfway across the world; our God is SO Big! Then, we dove into the field day events which included: disc golf throw, softball throw, softball hit, standing long jump, push-up contest, running race, volleyball hits, and the impossible catch (basketball). The campers were split into 8 groups and rotated through the stations. The winner from each group in each station went on to the finals, which were held after lunch. During finals, the campers that were not competing were big encouragers for their peers. The kids would lift each other in the air after winning and it was powerful to see their sportsmanship. After field day events, we had a tug-of-war competition. The competition ended when the camp boys went against the Hope and Poetice men because they pulled the rope so hard that it snapped in half and all the boys fell.
As the final sport event of the evening our Seed team played a softball game against the Poetice staff while the campers watched and cheered. It was the first time many of the campers had ever watched a softball game and they LOVED it. Of course, our Seed team won. Poetice is planning on building a permanent softball field so that the kids here can play every day!
To cap off the week we had awards for the campers. We recognized the winners from the field day event finals and gave them prizes. Then we recognized the male and female standout campers. They were so excited about their prizes that included Hope t-shirts, fidget spinners, and candy. After awards, it was time for the campers to go home (sad face). We took some pictures with campers that we can’t wait to share when we return! We also had one camper ask to pray for us before he left. During our debrief, many of us shared that his prayer was one of the most powerful prayers we have heard.
After the campers left, we had dinner, downtime, and got to socialize with our team members. This was one of the first times we’ve been able to spend some free time with each other, which was great. We are excited to travel to Macha tomorrow to see another sports ministry group in action! We miss our dads, dogs, and dessert.
Sorry about the late post, today’s blog will be up later tonight!
We woke up super excited for our second day of sports camp! It was special to have breakfast with the girl campers that spent the night on campus and continue building relationships with them. After days of travel and working hard during camp it was super nice to also use this time to get a load of laundry done. The boy campers arrived at around 9 am. While they played volleyball, the girls had a blast playing dodgeball before we headed into worship. During worship, we had the honor to pray for campers’ specific requests. We all found this to be a precious moment and a highlight of the day. Then we moved into stations similar to yesterday until it was time for lunch. The kitchen staff has been killing it with every meal! For lunch we ate pasta salad, fruit, boiled eggs, and bread.
The campers continued to love playing softball in the afternoon. Another highlight from today was presenting our Sawyer water filter demonstration after camp activities. We used the water filter as a symbol for Jesus’ role in our lives. Each camper received a water filter with a bucket to take home to their families. Access to clean water is limited in this part of Zambia, so it was amazing to be a part in providing that for them.
Because it was the boys turn to sleep on campus, the Hope women were able to walk the girl campers to their homes in the nearby community. The boy campers and Hope men helped build a new softball field on the property by raking away tall grass that had been mowed this morning and then adding all of the necessary lines with lime powder. The Hope men then had dinner with the boys, played glow-in-the-dark volleyball, and played a game of ultimate hide and seek around the whole base. To finish the night the campers showed the men, and encouraged us to participate in, some Zambian chants and songs.
Meanwhile, the girls drove to a Poetice member’s house to have dinner and debrief the day. The host prepared an apple crumble dessert that we all enjoyed with ice cream and some s’mores. The girls got back to base around 9:30 pm as the boys were debriefing their days. Despite all of the activity of the day, we are all feeling excited for another busy day tomorrow to finish the week strong. We miss our moms.
Today was our first day leading the camp with the local youth in Zambia! We started the day off with worship. Worship in Zambia is very different from the worship we experience in the states due to plentiful dancing and a ton of joy. During this time the kids were very encouraging and made us come out of our comfort zones by inviting us to dance with them. After worship was done, we split up into four groups: flag football, softball, health and wellness and strength and agility. Many of the kids were unfamiliar with these activities but were able to jump into them quickly when presented the opportunity. They were ecstatic to participate and interact with each other and with the team. After completing drills, we headed to lunch. We were able to talk to and learn more about the campers and their backgrounds while we ate. After lunch, the girls played softball and netball, a popular Zambian game that the Hope girls were able to learn. The boys played volleyball and flag football.
When the games were done, the boys walked into the communities with the boy campers and talked with their families. After dropping the campers off at their homes, the Hope guys went to Brad’s house, a permanent Poetice staff member from Hudsonville, MI. There, the boys got to play basketball, eat, and talk around the fire. While the Hope guys were away from camp, the girls, including the campers, were able to connect over dinner and other activities. The Hope girls learned many knew Zambian cheers and fun little games for around the fire. As we are writing this blog at 10 pm, the girl campers are still out and about having fun and spending the night on base.
We have a similar day planned for tomorrow and can’t wait to share!
Today was our first full day in Africa! We started our day with breakfast which was yummy. After breakfast we headed over to praise our lord during worship. Worship in a different language is incredible. It is cool to step into a new environment, and to see how the Zambians say YES to the lord by dancing joyfully. After we finished worship, we started prepping for the sports camp we are running tomorrow. Once we were done preparing for camp the women in our team changed into our long skirts and we started our walk into a local community “Mwapona.” Before heading into the community, we spent some time in an orientation where the Poetice leadership gave a talk about cultural differences. They explained some things about the Zambian lifestyle that are vastly incongruous to the US. They really stressed that their style of living is not “bad” or “less than” it is just different. They did not have the same material things as us, but their joy was plentiful. It reminded us of how rich they still are. We had the opportunities to walk through local markets and saw so many smiling kids. Once again, we had a great meal! It was Taco Tuesday!! We finished the day with more moving worship and as a team we started sharing our personal stories and testimonies. Sharing our stories brought us closer as a team and speaks to the power of God and just how good he is! Tomorrow, we ask for prayers for energy and excitement as we welcome local youth to the Poetice base.
We have finally arrived in Zambia! After an overnight flight and a short layover we flew into the Livingstone airport and were greeted by a few of the Poetice staff. Thankfully all of our luggage also made the trip which we were told may not be 100 percent guaranteed. We then packed into a bus and took a two and a half hour drive to the Poetice base in Choma, Zambia. When we arrived we were greeted by more staff with shouts of joy, open arms and some snacks. It felt wonderful to greeted so enthusiastically after a long journey over the past few days. After we were welcomed, we talked with the staff and got to know some of the amazing people we will get to work with in the next few days. We then moved our stuff into the bunkhouses and headed over to the worship center for some music and praise. The first worship song brought out the joy and energy that all the staff has for Jesus and even with our exhausted bodies we were able to share that joy. After worship we were blessed with our first traditional Zambian meal of nshima. It is eaten with your hands and consists of a mashed potato like base made of maze which is then rolled into a ball and used to scoop the vegetables and meat made with it. Some of us were better at making our nshima balls than others, but it was delicious anyways. After dinner we got to spend more time talking with the staff on base and are super excited for what the upcoming week has in store. We ask for prayers for a restful night of sleep for all of us so that we can be rejuvenated for our first day of training and prepping for the sports camps later this week.
Our first flight landed this afternoon in Frankfurt, Germany around 8 am EST. We were served a delicious pasta dinner around 1:00 am last night on the plane and then breakfast six hours later. Sleep was rough, but the flight was smooth. We are currently wrapping up an eight-hour layover in Germany. During our time here, we went through customs to get McDonald’s and KFC. Many of us got our passports stamped for the first time! While at these restaurants, the team experienced a language barrier for the first time. With the help of some new friends, we were able to order and get our food. German McDonalds is mostly the same as the ones in America, but also have sausage and other local foods on the menu (and the McRib!) After getting back through customs, we sat down to have a meaningful conversation as a group about our lives up until college. The team is loving getting to know each other better. To pass the time, we’ve been playing lots of card games, such as Euchre. We’re planning on a Euchre tournament sometime soon. We are hoping to be well rested when we land in Johannesburg, South Africa tomorrow morning. We can’t wait!