"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)

Supplies to ship...already?!?

Whoa, time is flying by. We're already talking and making plans for shipping supplies for our next trip in May! I've been taking in several donations and was able to get those to John when he came to visit. 

Two walkers and a set of crutches, plus a wheelchair and some emergency kit supplies were donated by a retired EMT in the Denton area. 

More crutches and an AK prosthesis with supplies were donated. 

Several liners and a pair of shoes.

A rep from Medi had these four liners to donate. It was so nice of him to think of us when he had these liners returned. 

A little back story is needed to explain how we're shipping supplies this time. For the first trip that Chris and John took in September 2012, they were able to coordinate with a man in Kansas that ships containers overseas. I'm not sure all the finer details, but he pays to ship large containers for various non-profits and mission work. That saved an incredible amount being able to include supplies on his container....almost $10K savings we found out when we shipped a crate for our trip this past April. 

So, this is very exciting that he has room for our supplies on a container! He lives in Kansas, so John will be hauling everything up to Kansas in a month or so. He doesn't anticipate the container shipping before February. It takes several months to get there, so we really hope there are no delays along the way. 

Preparations already for next year!

We have had opportunities to share stories and what Prosthetic Promises is all about in so many different ways! Also, we've already received donations and supplies in preparation for next year's trip. Praise God! It's so awesome to see the provisions He is making for future trips for Prosthetic Promises. 

Let's see...where to begin...

We've been back to several churches to give updates on this year's trip, including my home church in Clifton. John and Chris have talked to some churches in their area. And we've received donations from these churches and members. We are so thankful for support and prayers from many churches in different areas! 

I've had several donations of prosthetic parts and supplies at my office in Denton, which I was able to drop off in Temple on my way to a conference in San Antonio. Feet, knees, liners, socks, suspension sleeves, adapters, and prescription glasses!! 

The local newspaper in Cooke County, The Lindsay Letter, did an article about Prosthetic Promises' trip to Zambia! I got lots of "Hey, I saw you on the front page of the paper" from several people. :) Also, I had someone email me that had a prosthesis to donate for parts after they read the article. Very cool! 

AND...I was able to give a presentation about Prosthetic Promises at a professional organization conference for prosthetics and orthotics in San Antonio. This was really exciting (though I was nervous) to talk to other prosthetists about our trip to Zambia, patients we saw, and the logistics of the trip. I had several practitioners talk with me afterwards that are interested in possibly joining our team for our next trip! 

It's the little connections here and there that give me glimpses of how God is providing a way for this mission to continue. More parts donations, monetary donations, interest of other practitioners, and interest of many people to support and pray for Prosthetic Promises. We are excited to see things shaping up for our May 2015 trip. Stay tuned for updates along the way. 

Sharing Zambia stories...and learning from them

It's been a little over 2 months since team Prosthetic Promises returned from Zambia. On one hand it seems like it's been longer than 2 months--I suppose it's being back to the fast pace, schedule filled life in the U.S. where much has happened since we've been back--but on the other hand it seems like just yesterday we were in the African bush of Zambia. 

I find myself talking to anyone who will listen about our trip (Chris told me this would happen). Whether someone brings up their church and faith, or vacationing and travel, or sometimes our conversation seems to just wind right to the topic of missions. I've always heard that mission work is just as much, or more, of an impact on the one who goes on the mission as it is to those who are helped. And I definitely feel that may be the case with me. I feel I have a completely different view, thought process, even reactions to things about the world and people around me than I did before. Perhaps no one else has noticed a change, but I certainly feel it. 

As I talk to people about our experience and review it in my own thoughts, I find myself wondering whether I conveyed well enough to the people we made prostheses for that I was there because God called me go---to go and provide them with not only something physical to help them, but spiritual as well by telling them about Jesus and His love. Did I say the right words (through a translator)? Did I say enough? Did they have questions they didn't ask? I feel like it should to be harder, or more complex, than what it probably really is. I tend to over analyze things in my own world, so I feel that explaining anything to people of any complexity should be thorough, lengthy, a well-rounded explanation. But explaining everything in the detail I really want to could take hours, even days. I guess I've been internally struggling with this a bit. And I guess the point is not to completely cover everything but to plant the seed, so that people hear the good news and know that Christ is the way to salvation...then I pray the seed will grow. *Still learning here. 

In addition to what our incredible experience in Zambia taught me, I've been reflecting on some similar things from reading a book. While we were in Zambia, we were talking about different books to read and John recommended Radical by David Platt. John gave me a copy when we got back, and I encourage everyone to read it if you haven't already! To briefly describe the book, I'll tell you what the cover says---"Taking back your faith from the American dream". Yeah, pretty powerful stuff here. Mind blowing really. I really could go on and on about this book but clearly reading it is much better, so please do. 

I do want to share one of the many things that really impacted me from reading Radical. Platt described a situation where a friend had spent time in a remote area of Southeast Asia where the people had not heard the gospel. "They were warm and hospitable, and they invited him to share a drink with them. One man went into his small shop and reappeared moments later with a classic red Coke can. Immediately, it hit home with my friend. A soft-drink company in Atlanta has done a better job getting brown sugar water to these people than the church of Jesus Christ has done in getting the gospel to them." (pg.158-159) This makes sense to me! We were in rural Zambia where people live in grass huts, have no running water or electricity, perhaps no shoes---and there is Coke and cell phones. This completely set me on a domino effect of "Yeah, how is a soft-drink company more effective?" and "Wait...this isn't just remote villages or third world countries, companies and advertising reach people everywhere while the church does not" and "My goodness, we're completely falling down on the job here...why aren't we as the church out there telling everyone Jesus is the way, the truth and the life!" So basically I ramble on here to tell you this---this completely solidifies my desire and calling to global missions and makes me eager to do more in my life at home to spread the Word. 

Days 1-3, April 16th-18th: Travel and Arrival at New Day Orphanage

*First of many posts for a day-by-day recap of our April 2014 mission trip to Zambia. 

Wednesday, April 16th was day one of our trip. Jason and I met John, John's wife Robin, and Chris at DFW airport. This turned out to be a small fiasco because our first flight from DFW to Detroit was delayed, which wouldn't allow us to catch our flight in Detroit. So..after Chris talked with the Delta check-in lady while we all waited at curbside with all of the luggage, we were moved to American Airlines for our first flight. All 5 of us into the truck with all 16 bags plus carry-ons to move to the AA terminal. 

We did make all of our flights, and aside from it seemed like insanely long periods of time sitting in planes we made it to Lusaka, Zambia Thursday night. Our flight landed after 10 pm so thankfully there weren't many people around at the airport. At baggage claim, we acquired 12 of our 16 bags and then figured out 4 bags never made it to Lusaka. It took awhile to figure this whole thing out, but the four remaining trunks would be flown in on Saturday night. This was a bit of an issue since we would be leaving Friday morning from Lusaka for a 6 hour ride to New Day Orphanage. (The rest of the "missing 4 bags story" will continue later.) 

Blu picked us up from the airport in "Bus Number New Day", and we stayed at the Flying Mission in Lusaka on Thursday night. 

Now, the New Day bus is a 1991 year model bus from Japan that made it through a tsunami and has a history of frequent flat tires and break-downs. John and Chris' last trip in 2012 includes a story of a flat tire on their way to New Day that took hours to get fixed. Strangely enough, on our way from the airport across town to the Flying Mission we had a flat tire....at around 1am. Blu, John and Jason managed to change the tire pretty quickly, and we were on our way again. It was SO nice to shower and sleep horizontally in a bed rather than sitting on an airplane Thursday night. The Flying Mission was a nice place to stay...remember don't drink the water and use the mosquito net when sleeping. (Brushing your teeth using a water bottle is very odd to me.) 

Friday morning we left out. The bus crew included all 4 of our team and the Tidwell family, Blu, Darbi, and 3 kids, Caedmon, Cambree and Cason. We made a stop at the grocery store for a little shopping for Darbi, the orphanage and whatever we wanted for our stay for drinks or snacks. We picked up Esther, who was our cook during our stay at New Day, before leaving Lusaka. After the long bus ride, starting on a "nice" paved road and then ending on dirt roads to the orphanage, we arrived with time left in the day to unpack and set up most of our work areas. The main paved road from the capital city Lusaka running south is best described as a paved county road here in Texas. Narrow, several pot holes and bumps, and some detours off on a dirt road for the construction parts. Some pictures from our bus travel to New Day: 

Chris enjoying the scenic ride.

Luggage all in the back of the bus and Jason looking very serious.

All along the road you can see people walking, riding bicycles or selling things on the roadside.

I absolutely loved the hills and mountains around the Lusaka area...so beautiful. It was much more flat in the area where New Day is. Blu says New Day is located in the "armpit of Zambia". 

You can see the nice driveway and buildings that contrast greatly with the buildings and huts further away from the city.

Example of a woman selling alongside the road. 

A river we passed over...not sure the name though. 

Blu stopped to buy a few baskets on our way.

New Day Orphanage---we thank you SO much for hosting us for this trip. 

*Next post is Day 4: First day of patients. 

Day 4, Saturday April 19: First Day of Patients

Before I get started with details of Saturday, let me show you around New Day Orphanage a little via pictures. 

Inside the dining hall. This was a Tuesday family night dinner with everyone!

Walking from the guest house towards the end where the dining hall, pavilion for church, boys and girls houses, school houses, staff houses, etc. are all located. Note the water tower to the left of the road...this is great to climb for beautiful sunset pictures. 

View of the guest house, "The Ark", from the top of the water tower. This is where we stayed and worked out of. Two of the bedrooms are not finished yet, so they made perfect work areas for us. John had one room, and Chris and I set up in the other. 

A few of the boys in front of their house. 

The kids in action playing football (soccer) on their playing field.

The pavilion where church service is held. 

Just one of the many outdoor lights that were recently installed by a mission team that light the pathways at night for safety. Almost all of the lights have name plates for those who donated for them, whether it is given by, in honor, or in memory of. Jason and I donated for one light. 

Saturday started early for us. All 4 of us along with Wes, Geoff (Wes' friend who stayed 5 weeks at New Day and left on our flight back) and Elizabeth (social worker at New Day who translated for us) set off in Bus Number New Day to the Macha radio station to meet patients. The radio station had been announcing for several weeks that our team would be coming and for those who need prosthetic legs or eyes to meet at the radio station on Saturday morning. The radio is a good way of getting the message out since a lot of villages have at least one radio and people spread the word. 

Macha radio station.

Elizabeth translating for Chris. This is Jessica's husband they are talking to. 

One of the patients who came to the radio station, Jessica. You can see her blue head scarf..she's sitting in the ox cart. She and her husband had traveled by ox cart to the radio station and had been waiting for us to arrive. Jessica has a prosthesis that's at least 50 years old...her husband has done several repairs to it over the years but it is badly damaged and does not fit properly. Chris saw her in 2012 but she did not have enough materials to make her a new prosthesis, so Chris promised Jessica that she would be first on her next trip. Jessica and her husband remembered that promise and were excited to see Chris. 

Some women walking through Macha while we waited at the radio station for patients to come. Women carry all sorts of things on their heads...amazing balance!

After we picked up Jessica, her husband and Mr. Green (those were the only 2 patients who met us at the radio station) we went to the Macha hospital to see if anyone happened to go there instead of the radio station. This is outside of the hospital. Families whose loved ones are at the hospital camp out in this area for the duration.

We returned to New Day and found that 3 more people were waiting there for prosthetic legs. Chris and I started casting, and John saw Mr. Green for a check-up and cleaning of his prosthetic eye that John made him in 2012. Later in the day Anold came for casting; he brought his above knee prosthesis that Chris made in 2012 but hadn't been wearing it for a few months because the lock was broken. John also saw Hilda, who works at New Day, for impressions for a partial plate for teeth and another man came for a prosthetic eye. Total count of patients on day one: 5 for casting for Chris and I, plus one leg that had been brought for repair before we even arrived at New Day, and 3 for John. 

John working with Mr. Green.

This is Jessica's old prosthesis. 

John taking Hilda's impressions for teeth. 

A great picture of Esther (in the pink top) translating for us. She was so wonderful to not only cook for us while we were at New Day, but translate when patients came. She was excited to be able to help us with translating and seemed very touched that we came to provide these prosthetic services to the people of Zambia. We all loved getting to know Esther of the few weeks and hear her story.

This is Osia, who has a below knee amputation from a car accident.

Chris casting Joel for a below knee prosthesis. Joel walked for miles on his crutches to get to New Day.

John talking with one of his patients. 

This is Killion, who has a below knee amputation from a car accident last fall. He is a truck driver, which is how he lost his leg, so he was very interested to know if he can drive with the prosthesis. He also liked playing football (soccer) before his amputation, so I know he is very active. Initially when Killion came in, I had Esther translating but after a few minutes I figured out he spoke English and we got on quite well after that. :)

This is Alnold gettting casted for a new prosthesis. He brought his old one from 2012 that is broken but since he's a kid and is growing, he was re-casted for a new one. 

After all the patients had been seen, we walked down to see Kid's Club that happens Saturday evenings. Kid's Club is something like Wednesday night kid's group at churches here with a meal for the kids...consisting of nshima, beans and cabbage. Each kid gets a full plate of food, which in some cases is the biggest meal the surrounding village kids eat all week. 

Some of the kids playing before meal time.

It was so fun to watch all the kids sing and dance.

Everyone sitting under the trees eating their meal.

Jason got assigned fill the water cups duty. :)

To update on the "missing 4 bags story"....we obviously had left Lusaka before the remaining bags made it to the airport, so someone had to travel back to Lusaka to pick up our bags when they arrived Saturday night. A local guy named Steady, who has a truck to haul things, was hired to drive into Lusaka, pick up our 4 bags and some furniture for New Day. He left out Saturday morning to Lusaka and would drive back after picking up our bags at the airport to return Sunday morning. During his travel back at night (which is dangerous to do), thieves jumped on his truck at a construction point where he slowed down, cut the ropes and took 2 of our bags off the truck. Steady was able to get one back but they got away with the other. After he returned Sunday morning, we were able to figure out what bag was missing and thankfully it was not any supplies that were critical for our work. Several tools and supplies that would have been great to have were stolen but we could carry on. 

Whew!...missing luggage, flat tire, stolen supplies. Definitely opposition happening, but we just kept praying for God's guidance and a successful trip. 

*Next post is Day 5: Easter Sunday in Zambia

Day 5, Sunday April 20: Easter in Zambia

Easter Sunday in Zambia was so awesome! New Day Church is held outdoors under a pavilion and includes not only those who live at New Day but also people from the surrounding villages. When you walk up to the pavilion, you go around the circle shaking everyone's hand to greet them. Mwabuka buti---Good Morning, How are you? And the response is Kabotu---Good, fine. I loved the singing part of service....songs in Tonga are just beautiful. 

Part of Easter service included some of the New Day kids doing a performance called The Redeemer Drama. Jenna, a volunteer who was at New Day for 4 months, taught the kids the performance that was motions to music without words. It was so moving and so amazing that these kids did this powerful performance! 

After church service, we went back to The Ark to spend the afternoon fabricating. We worked all afternoon until time for a murder mystery dinner that Jenna planned. The dinner was so much fun...lots of laughter. 

*Next post is Day 6: More patients and fabricating