Monday, July 31, 2006

Everyday Hero

Wayne Biggs is the head American cook on the medical mission, second in command to Leonard Sichimwa. Wayne hails from our home congregation in Austin and was a good friend even before he made his first trip to Zambia in 2005. Wayne has worked in the restaurant business and has an intuitive feel for portion sizes and how much of this and that to add to make something taste just right. He also loves the Zambian people and they love him. Wayne's wife, Janie, is a hero in my book just as much as Wayne is. Janie has some serious health problems and has difficulty getting out of the house without Wayne to help her. It's a great sacrifice for her to let him go off to Africa for two weeks. Those of us who enjoy the good food during the medical mission are very grateful for Wayne and Janie and their willingness to serve the Lord.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Crossing Over

Our house seems to get a little quieter each day. On Wednesday we took five of our houseguests (Richard and Angie Prather and their daughters Chelsea and Cortney, plus Michele Broadway) to Livingstone to catch their flights back to the US. The Prathers were leaving from Livingstone on Thursday afternoon, while Michele Broadway was scheduled to leave on Thursday from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, along with Wil and Jenny Pippin and their two-year-old son Jonathan. The plan was to take Michele and the Pippins to the Zambian border crossing Wednesday afternoon where a driver would meet them and shuttle them across to Victoria Falls. There they had arranged to spend the night at Russell’s Lodge before flying out on Thursday morning.

We arrived at the border a little after 4:00 and began to wait for the driver from Russell’s Lodge. We waited, and we waited, and we waited some more. Wil tried many times to reach Russell by phone, and finally succeeded. Russell thought the driver was waiting on the Zimbabwean side of the border and said he’d phone him and send him to Zambia. We waited some more. At 5:15 time was running out. It gets dark before 6:00 here, and no one wanted to be crossing into Zimbabwe after dark.

About that time a man in a double cab pickup arrived at the border gate. Richard Prather sized him up and thought he looked like a nice guy. Richard briefly explained the situation to the man and asked if he might be willing to deliver the group to the other side of the border. The man quickly agreed, telling us that he was the descendant of some of the early missionaries. He was also acquainted with other friends of Zambia Medical Mission in Vic Falls. He knew the location of Russell’s Lodge and was willing to take the passengers there. We quickly stuffed the many pieces of luggage in the back of his truck, said our goodbyes, and watched as Michele and the Pippins climbed in the vehicle. Richard offered to pay our new friend, but he refused, saying he was glad to help. Off they sped across the Zambezi River Bridge.

Wil Pippin called an hour later to report that they were safely settled at Russell’s.

We didn’t see any wings sticking out of this guy’s T-shirt, but we think he just might be a Shuttle Angel.

What's Cooking?

Leonard Sichimwa (left) is the head cook for Zambia Medical Mission. He does a tremendous job of preparing three meals a day for over 210 people, and he does it without a cookstove or running water. He's shown here stirring a pot of soup with a wooden paddle that could easily double as a boat oar!

In the background you can see Marco Myoba roasting a goat. The community wanted to provide a cape buffalo, but their hunters weren't able to locate one in time. They sent a goat instead.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


It takes many vehicles to move 210 people into the bush with all the water, food, tents, and medical supplies needed to conduct three days of clinics. Our convoy included two yellow school buses, three smaller 24-passenger buses, two Land Rovers, three pickups, and five flatbed trucks (lorries). The mile-long caravan kicked up plenty of dust as it snaked slowly over the rugged bush roads.

New Look

Michele Broadway has put her superb computer skills to work and improved our blog site. Now you can always tell what time it is at our house. She also managed to get our photo onto the opening page--a feat I had attempted several times and failed to accomplish.

Michele was my (unpaid) personal computer trainer in the US and spent many hours by my side getting me through graduate school projects. I saved up a list of computer jobs to have her work on while she's here at Namwianga!

The Internet Cafe

Ronnie McQueen was one of our frequent visitors to the "internet cafe" on the front veranda. We actually have some wooden benches available for seating, but Ronnie seemed to prefer sitting directly on the cold concrete!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Mission Report - July 24

I am SO sorry that I have not posted on the blog for many days. I’ll give a very brief synopsis of our recent happenings and then try to provide more details in the coming days.

We left for a second set of clinics on Saturday, July 15, and traveled to Singwamba. The drive was long, slow, and bumpy, but we took an alternate route and avoided some of the worst sections of the road. Once again the wonderful advance team had arrived early and set up our tents for us.

Sunday we had a worship service with the Zambians who were waiting for treatment and then opened the clinic at mid-morning. We saw streams and streams of people for the next two days. Early Tuesday morning we were up before daylight and headed for a one-day clinic at RR Chileshe. We finished seeing patients there by mid-afternoon and loaded up one more time for the final trek back to Namwianga. After four days in the bush, we were all dreaming of hot showers and sleeping in real beds. David couldn’t resist teasing our convoy by playing “Splish, Splash, I Was Taking a Bath” over the walkie talkies as we bumped and jolted over the dusty roads.

Wednesday was Project Day—a time set aside for our American team to join with the Zambians at Namwianga for work, fun, and fellowship. Our team painted classrooms, repaired windows and doors, and sorted library books in the morning. Some of the American teachers taught classes at the secondary school and college. Each of the teenagers paired up with one of Namwianga’s high school students and attended classes for the morning.

Thursday and Friday were spent in Livingstone where we enjoyed shopping and sightseeing before sending off most of the team on Saturday morning.

The population of our house has declined from thirteen to just nine now. Those remaining are cleaning, packing, and organizing the supplies and materials for next year. Most of them will leave on Wednesday to return to the US. Sara will be here until Saturday.

More to come . . .

Friday, July 14, 2006


You can go to to view some great photos of our first set of clinics and get a good overview of how the clinics operate.

Back from the Bush - July 14

We arrived home last night after spending four days out in the bush doing clinics. The trucks, buses, pickups, and trailers rolled out of Namwianga on Monday around noon. The Calders at Seven Fountains Farm fed us a wonderful lunch of poiki (stew) featuring reebok and leechwe (antelope) meat before we headed south on the dreaded Kabanga road. For the next six hours we moved at a snail’s pace over washboard roads, dodging potholes and breathing the red dust stirred up by the caravan of vehicles. Two flat tires had to be changed along the way, and one of the trucks had to make frequent stops to fill and check on a radiator, but we finally made it to Kanyanga just after dark. The advance team had gone ahead of us earlier in the day and set up the camp, so our tents were waiting and dinner was cooking over open fires when we arrived.

We held clinics at Kanyanga on Tuesday and Wednesday, seeing over 4,000 patients on those two days. David and I worked in the spiritual counseling area conducting Bible studies and praying with individuals and small groups. Sara worked in the “Pills on Wheels” pharmacy bus filling prescriptions.

We camped a total of three nights at Kanyanga, pulling out just before dawn on Thursday to go to Kapaulo. The plan called for a two-hour trip, but the road conditions and trailer breakdowns turned it into three and a half hours. We quickly set up at Kapaulo and saw as many patients as possible, but the crowds were huge and we were unable treat everyone. Our triage team assessed each person and was able to refer those who were sickest to our team of doctors and nurses. People who were not seen by the medical team received vitamins and painkillers. At 5:00 we closed down the clinic and loaded up, heading back to Namwianga just as the sun set.

I haven’t yet gotten the totals for the number of patients seen at Kapaulo, but I’m sure that in three days we treated well over 5500 in the medical, dental, wound care, and optometry clinics. We had 55 baptisms at Kanyanga and 16 (I think) at Kapaulo.

After four days with no running water, we were all thrilled to get hot showers or baths and to sleep in real beds. Today (Friday) is a rest and re-pack day. Some team members are repairing and refueling vehicles. Others are reorganizing and packing up the pharmacy, children’s ministry, and kitchen for our next set of clinics. At some point today everyone will have a chance to go to the Kalomo market and tour the campus. This afternoon I am hosting a reception for team members who participate in the needy student program so that they can meet and get to know the students they sponsor. Tonight the people who are staying in the homes of Zambians here at Namwianga will eat with their host families. The rest of us will head up to the Merritts to enjoy dinner with Roy and Kathi.

A stomach virus has been making several of our team members miserable. The only thing worse than having the stomach bug is suffering through all of that while you’re camping in a tent in the African bush! Thankfully our doctors and nurses try hard to keep everyone as comfortable as possible, and we are hoping that the virus has run its course.

Tomorrow morning we are off again for another set of clinics. This time we will be going north to Singwamba. Please keep us in your prayers.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

News and Notes - July 9

We added one more person to our house yesterday, making a total of twelve under our roof. One more is stuck in Johannesburg and should arrive today. Richard Prather and David are the only males in the group and are feeling very outnumbered.

Here is a snapshot of some of the things that happened in or around our house the past few days. In the living room I have been sewing a new curtain for the children's ministry puppet stage. This thing is made of three double bed sheets, so it's huge. Michele Broadway has been on the computer working on curriculum for the children's ministry. On the veranda we have had anywhere from one to three people at a time on laptops checking e-mails or working on projects from home that have to be completed during the next couple of weeks. In the back yard some workers have been doing laundry by hand for our group. Our 12 "residents" have been in and out as they go about their tasks on campus. Several meetings have been held in the living room or on the veranda. It's a happening place around here!

Today (Sunday) there will be several groups of medical mission team members going out to village congregations. We think this will be a highlight of their visit to Zambia as they interact with the gracious Zambian people in a worship service.

Monday afternoon we will leave for the first set of clinics. We'll be out in the bush camping in tents until we return late on Thursday night. Please pray for our efforts this week and we try to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of the Zambian people.

Remember that you can follow more of the medical mission news on

Cable Angel

Keeping the vehicles running at Namwianga is a constant struggle, and that task is especially challenging when medical mission time rolls around. Several guys have been working diligently for the last two weeks to get the necessary vehicles up and running.

Last week Josh Massingill and Martin Mwiimbili made a trip to Lusaka to find a cable for one of the Nissan trucks. They spent the better part of a day going from store to store, showing the worn-out cable and trying to find a replacement. No store had the needed part, and some clerks assured them that no one else in Lusaka did either.

Finally they decided to try a new part of town. They had just gotten to the new shopping center and were stepping into a store when a guy walked up to them and said, "You need this. Come with me." He held up a brand new cable, still in the plastic wrap. Josh and Martin followed the man up to the third floor of a nearby building and negotiated the price.

As Josh's dad, K. B. Massingill, puts it: "Either the spare-parts network in Lusaka (a city of a couple of million) is very organized and word had gotten out that we were looking for this cable, or this was an angel sent to us with a spare cable. Perhaps the next time we need a difficult-to-locate spare part, we will just go stand at the market and wait for someone to approach us."

Math Workshop

Zambians readily admit that math is a weak area for most people in this country. I've heard them talk about this many times. One of the Namwianga teachers and I came up with an idea to start attacking this problem.

Michele Broadway and my daughter Sara are math teachers in the U.S. Michele teaches at Brentwood Christian School and Sara teaches at a middle school in Tulsa. A few months ago, they agreed to prepare a workshop for secondary math teachers in the area. I invited all the math teachers and student teachers from Namwianga's satellite schools and from the government schools in Kalomo to come to the Mission on Friday for a two-hour seminar. Twenty-eight teachers from nine different schools participated.

Michele and Sara did a wonderful job with their presentation. They began by describing math anxiety and tracing its causes. Then the rest of the time they had the teachers involved in games and activities to show them how to make math fun. The teachers loved the workshop and were thrilled to get handouts and materials that they can take back and use immediately. One of them said, "Why didn't you do this for two days instead of two hours?"

Hmm. Maybe next year. I'm already thinking about how we could get a grant to pay for food and materials so we could do just that.

No Luggage

The rest of the medical mission team--50 or so people--was due to arrive in Livingstone yesterday (Saturday). We sent two buses for the people and a flatbed truck (lorry) for the luggage. We could have skipped the luggage truck, because not one single piece of checked baggage arrived with the passengers!

It seems that the airline for the last leg of the journey from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Livingstone didn’t purchase enough fuel. The heavier the weight, the more fuel required--so the airline’s solution was to send the passengers and keep their luggage in Johannesburg for a later flight. They also decided that there were too many passengers, so six of our team members got to spend the night in Johannesburg.

The good news is that those who did get to come arrived safely and were able to get settled in at Namwianga. The overnighters will land in Livingstone at noon today—hopefully well rested. The luggage is due in later this afternoon.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

News and Notes - July 5

Our daughter Sara arrived yesterday, along with 13 others on the early team for the medical mission. I can't even begin to describe how wonderful it was to hug Sara that first time after not seeing her for a year! We drove to Livingstone to meet the group. Their tickets had been redone to fit the new airline schedule, so they had to fly into Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and be transferred by a tour company bus to the Zambian side. They almost made it through the Vic Falls airport without incident, but Star Ferguson got stopped with her four bags of pharmaceuticals, and the customs people couldn't let that go without a hassle. To ensure that the drugs were only in transit and would not be sold in Zimbabwe, customs required the tour company to post a deposit. Then the deposit was refunded at the border.

Sara also ended up with one piece of luggage missing. It seems that the bag never made it onto the plane when she checked in at the DC airport! She brought two suitcases--one with her clothes and one with items to give to us--and the one with her clothes is the missing bag. The airline agreed to send it to the Livingstone airport, and we're hoping it will be here before the weekend.

For the trip from Livingstone to Kalomo, the medical mission group traveled in a 24-passenger bus owned by the Mission. The bus pulled a small trailer that held most of the luggage. We were following in our truck with the rest of the baggage. As the bus made its way over and around the huge potholes in one stretch of the highway, a tire on the trailer blew out. This pulled the bus off the road onto the shoulder and gave driver Klay Bartee a chance to show off his driving skills as he managed to keep both bus and trailer upright! A quick tire change and we were on the road again.

As soon as we arrived at the Mission we headed out to Jordan Rock for the traditional Fourth of July wiener roast. Hot dogs, potato chips, Cokes, and ice cream are especially welcome treats over here! Just after dark we returned to the houses to get everyone settled and found the campus completely dark--no electricity--so another set of guests got the candlelight tour as they found their rooms. This proved to be a relatively short power outage since the lights came just a couple of hours later.

We're thrilled to have friends and family here as we get ready to set out on the medical mission next week.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Bus Stop Bargaining

We returned to Namwianga on Thursday after picking up some members of the early team. At one spot along the road we found a group of ladies and young girls selling fresh produce. As soon as the bus stopped, the vendors mobbed the bus, holding up their vegetables and yelling, "Buy mine! Buy mine!" Riders passed kwacha out the windows as the produce came in. A few minutes later we were on our way again, leaving a few happy sellers and several disappointed ones as well.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Zambia Medical Mission Blog

Zambia Medical Mission has a blog that will be updated frequently during the next three weeks. The address is You can visit this site for more details on team happenings.

News and Notes - July 1

The medical mission is scheduled for July 10 – 19, and Namwianga is buzzing with preparations. On Monday we traveled to Lusaka and picked up some of the early team members. Several others arrived in Livingstone on Thursday. There are now 30 Americans on campus doing everything from labeling tents to making photocopies. We have five extra people staying at our house, with more due to come in on Tuesday. We’re eating all our meals together at the Hamby House, and I admit that I’m enjoying the break from cooking.

Our house is fast becoming an internet cafĂ©. Several of the Americans brought along their laptops and are taking advantage of our wireless internet connection. Last night we had quite a group gathered in front of the fireplace visiting and sipping tea while some worked busily on their computers. At times like these, it’s hard to believe we’re in rural Africa. Of course, we had just recovered from a two-hour power outage in the early evening that forced us to eat dinner by lantern light, so I guess we’ll not get too comfortable with technology.

This weekend is also the Namwianga Lectureship, so people from all over Zambia are on campus for that event. David has been involved in planning the program and is one of the speakers.

Our daughter Sara and two others from Austin arrive with several other team members on July 4. Their trip here is a long, complicated affair involving two overnight stays in hotels. They had the misfortune of getting caught in an airline changeover that rerouted all their original flights and turned a two-day trip into a four-day odyssey. Instead of landing in Livingstone, Zambia, they will end up in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and have to go through the border crossing process. I’m sure they’ll have stories to tell when we meet them on the Zambian side. Please pray for their safety and patience as they travel.