Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Family Picture

This is our family photo taken last week. John left with the rest of the medical team on Saturday, and we took Sara to Livingstone today to catch her flight home. The ache in my heart is a reminder of how wonderful it was to have them both here with us. We are comforted knowing that they are doing well in their lives as young adults and are faithful to the Lord.

Tomorrow we are taking off for a few days to rest and recover from the hectic pace of the last two months. We'll be back Monday night.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Gregersen Guesthouse Gang

We managed to get 15 of our Guesthouse Gang together for a photo during our time in Livingstone. Front row: Brad Hamby, Me, Michele Broadway. Second row: Sara, Liz McClellan. Third row: David, Kate Click, Meredith Carter. Fourth row: Mark Broadway, John Gregersen, Aaron Carlisle. Top row: Kyle Robarts, Daniel Bynum, Jesse Bynum, and Mason Singleton. Not pictured: Meta and Alyssa Isenhower, Kayla McNiece.

Baobab Tree

Our last clinic was at Mabuyu which means "Two Trees." One of those trees is this magnificent baobab. You can see how small the people around the base of the tree look in relation to the trunk!

Mabuyu is noted for something else as well. The children of Mabuyu are well behaved, polite, and responsive. The teachers and workers in the children's program love to come to Mabuyu because they know they will have a great class.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Kalweza Women's Meeting

We had just gotten home on Saturday when Rodgers Namuswa came by to tell us that he had scheduled Cindy Robinson and me to speak at a women's meeting on Sunday. We recruited Michele Broadway to teach the children and Misozi to translate for us.

Sunday afternoon we headed for Kalweza where women from several area congregations had been meeting since Thursday. They had slept in the church building and in grass enclosures and had cooked all their meals over open fires. We arrived at 2:20 and found that they had not yet had their lunch. Rodgers asked the women in charge what they wanted to do and they said, "We will feed on the Word of God first and then we will eat our food." How humbling it is to find such receptive and eager listeners!

There were about 150 women gathered inside a grass shelter--perhaps much like the brush arbor structures used for revivals in America's past years. Rodgers told us that the women gathered the grasses and the men cut the poles and lashed them together. Photos above show both the outside and inside of the structure. The women sat on mats made of feed sacks.

Update - July 22

We spent Wednesday through Saturday in Livingstone with the medical mission team doing some sightseeing and relaxing. Most of the team--including our son John--left for the US on Saturday afternoon. We still have Sara and the Broadways here at our house.

Sara could hardly wait to get back to Namwianga and see the toddlers at Eric's House. She brought home Cynthia and Moshe last night, and tonight we have Jason and Bernard. Mark and Michele wanted to take the little guys home, so they let Jason and Bernard try out the carry-on bag to see if they'd fit.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This and That

We have had 18 people living with us since July 8, although we have only been here four nights during that time. It has been a wonderful group and we have thoroughly enjoyed them all. Here's the guest list: Kayla McNiece, Kyle Robarts, Aaron Carlisle, Meredith Carter, Alysa and Meta Isenhower, Kate Click, Liz McClellan, Mark and Michele Broadway, Brad Hamby, Daniel and Jesse Bynum, Mason Singleton, and the four of us Gregersens. Sharing bathrooms and living space has meant some patient waiting--the last person finished taking a bath at 11:00 last night!

Today we are leaving for Livingstone for sightseeing and rest. Most of the team flies out on Saturday. John will be with that group, but Sara and the Broadways will be here for a few more days.

Link to Zambia Medical Mission

You can read more detailed reports of the medical mission by clicking on the title above. ZMM Director K. B. Massingill has written daily accounts of our clinics and activities.

New Faith

Many Zambians wear beads that they believe will help them to ward off evil spirits and stay healthy. This lady studied the Bible with me and decided to become a Christian and put her faith in Jesus rather than beads and witchcraft. Before her baptism, she willingly let me cut off the necklaces and bracelets she had been wearing.


Our daughter Sara is shown in front of the Pharmacy Bus, or Pills on Wheels as it is affectionately known. Patients turn in their prescriptions at the front of the bus and pick up their medications at the back.

Eye Clinic

Daniel Bynum worked in the eye clinic part of the time. This team had a very rewarding job as they witnessed the joy the patients expressed when they were able to see well.

Take A Number, Please

Jesse Bynum worked in the front lines of the clinic. Here he is putting a numbered sticker on one of the patients. The numbers are color coded so that anyone can tell at a glance if the patient is to go to the dental, optical, or medical area. The numbers also help us get patients seen in an orderly way and facilitate record keeping.

Dental Work

Our son John worked in the dental triage area. Here he is shown with Zambian translator Oliver on the left. Karan Bridgwater looked in each patient's mouth to determine which teeth were to be pulled. Then John directed the patients to the dental clinic area.


Mason Singleton worked in the triage area of the clinic weighing patients.

Clinics End

We arrived back at Namwianga yesterday evening. We traveled to Nazibbula on Saturday and spent the night. After a worship service on Sunday morning we opened the first of two days of clinics there. We stayed in our tent city until Tuesday morning when we packed up and left for a one-day clinic at Mabuyu. We finished there around 5:00 and headed for home--tired, dusty, and full of memories.

The medical, dental, and optometry clinics saw more than 15,500 patients during our six days in the bush, and we had 143 baptisms from our spiritual outreach efforts. The organization and teamwork was amazing, and God richly blessed us in many ways.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sponsorship Reception

The ZMM team spent Friday at Namwianga. One of the special activities was a sponsorship reception. All those on the team who sponsor students or who are from congregations that sponsor students had an opportunity to meet and get acquainted with those students. The upper photo shows Michele Broadway with some of the students who are sponsored by members of Brentwood Oaks Church of Christ in Austin. The entire sponsorship group is shown in the lower photo.

Other activities of the day included soccer and netball games with the ZMM team playing Namwianga--ZMM was defeated in both games, but players and spectators had a great time.

Friday evening a reception for the ZMM team and the Namwianga community was held. A highlight of that event was a presentation by the combined secondary choirs. Their singing was incredible, especially since not one of these gifted singers can read music.

We are packing up on Saturday morning and heading out for another set of clinics at Nazibbula and Mabuyu.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Back from the Bush

We arrived back at Namwianga yesterday after four days out in the bush. We left on Monday afternoon and traveled to Njabalombe, our home base for the next three nights. Our tents were ready and waiting, thanks to the Advance Team who had gone out earlier in the day. We did two days of clinics at Njabalombe and left early Thursday morning for Katungu where we quickly set up and conducted another one-day clinic. Late in the afternoon we packed up and headed home, stopping at Rod and Sue Calders for dinner.

Everyone at our house managed to stay healthy, and for that we are grateful. We were also very grateful for hot baths and showers last night!

Today is a Project Day at Namwianga. Our team members will work on campus here doing repair jobs, preparing for the next clinics, and having fun with the people who live and work here. This morning some of the Americans will be teaching classes at the secondary and college. In the afternoon we will have a reception for sponsors so that they can meet their sponsored students, followed by soccer and netball games.

Tomorrow we'll head out again for another round of clinics.

Clean Delivery Kits

This young mother-to-be holds up a Clean Delivery Kit that she received during our Njabalombe clinic. This zip lock bag contains just a few simple items that can make the delivery of her baby safer and help ensure that she will live to raise the child. Generous donations from some of you made it possible for these kits to be distributed.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Communication and Transportation

I've said it before--communication and transportation are our constant challenges. Here is yet another example.

We went to Lusaka June 26-27 to buy formula for the orphanage. The Cowbell Company's warehouse was out of stock, but the manager in charge assured me that they would deliver 18 cases to Namwianga. He got on the phone to the driver in Livingstone and told him to drop off as many cases as he could spare the following day. I asked him several time if I needed to give him directions to the orphanage, and he told me that they had delivered to Namwianga many times and knew where it was. We went back to Namwianga and assumed all was well.

A week later I contacted Cecelia at the orphanage and found out that no formula had been delivered. I called Cowbell in Lusaka and talked to someone who knew nothing about it but promised to have the manager call me. Then on Thursday evening Sue Calder stopped by and asked me if I had gotten the formula that had been delivered to the Internet Cafe in Kalomo. Apparently six cases had been sitting there since June 28. I still had no idea where the other 12 cases were.

Today Don Oldenburg called from Kalomo. He had just walked into a store in the market, and the clerk had asked him if he was from Namwianga. When Don said yes, the clerk told him that 12 cases of formula had been delivered the previous week, and he asked Don to take them to the orphanage.

So all is well. The orphanage has the formula and once again we have overcome the challenges of communication and transportation.

A Happening Place

All kinds of things are happening at our house today! Since Monday we've had Mark and Michele Broadway and Mason Singleton from Austin staying with us. Leonard, a sign painter from Zimbabwe, has also been here, and last night we added Brad Hamby. Tonight two more team members move in, plus we have a toddler from the orphanage with us.

The living room was a workroom for children's ministry projects this afternoon as some of the younger team members prepared crafts for the medical mission children's classes. A card game or two was held around the dining room table.

At another time this afternoon the living room was a showroom for local crafts. Two different Zambian friends are making tote bags, skirts, tie chitenges, and aprons. I sell them to members of the medical mission team and take $1 from each sale for needy student sponsorships.

Our toddler from the orphanage is Adrian. Sara and Meagan and I went for a visit at lunchtime and found Adrian feeling terrible. He is usually very vocal, demanding, and active. Today he was feverish and lethargic and too miserable to even whimper. We had Dr. Neese from the medical mission team come take a look at him and get him started on an antibiotic. Sara looked at me as we stood over Adrian's crib and said, "We can't leave him here like this, can we?" I checked with Dr. Neese and he agreed that it would be fine for us to take him home and give him some extra attention. So Sara and I have been making sure Adrian gets lots of TLC. Tylenol and liquids perked him up pretty quickly, and we hope by tomorrow he'll be well enough to go back to the orphanage.

Tomorrow John flies in with the rest of the medical team, including Daniel and Jesse Bynum. Daniel, Jesse, Mason, and John grew up together in Austin, so we are thrilled to have them together here in Africa. Also arriving tomorrow will be Kate Click and Liz McClellan from Austin. They are students at Brentwood Christian School and will be sponsored here by Mark and Michele Broadway. Kate was in my second grade class years ago and is the first former student of mine to come to Africa, so that's exciting for me.

Expected population at the Gregersen house tomorrow night is 18. We'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Keep on Biking

Christopher earned a blog entry by becoming the first bicycle evangelist to wear out a bicycle. He was one of the first to receive a bicycle last year, and he has faithfully used his wheels to minister and evangelize. We get tired just reading his monthly reports. His area is on and around the dreaded Kabanga Road, so it's not surprising that his bike was due for a trade-in. He received this new set of wheels so that he can keep up the good work.

News from the Front

Liston Sibokkolo stopped by during the lectureship to tell us about his student teaching and his work with Mukaziwa and Sandy Hill congregations. Sandy Hill lost almost all its original members in the last few months. It is a farm congregation and the workers got transferred or lost their jobs. Liston started going on Saturday afternoons to hold Bible studies and has now gotten a small group of new members attending on Sundays. He came by to get some help to organize a weekend meeting. It was a joy to see his enthusiasm and his concern for the people of Sandy Hill. He is exactly the kind of worker we try to train at George Benson Christian College.

Yesterday Thomas Siafwiyo brought back reports from the students who are working with the Northreach effort. He said that the student teachers he had talked to are doing a great work with their congregations. Thomas also reported that one of the headmasters gave him glowing compliments about the student teachers, saying that he would be asking for them to come back as full-time teachers when they graduated.

News like this gives us encouragement that GBCC is accomplishing the goal of training self-supporting church planters and leaders. To God be the glory.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Ladies of Sichikwalula

I did finally teach my 3:00 ladies' class on Saturday afternoon--at 4:30. Some women asked if they could do a short play before I spoke, and I readily agreed. They put on a hilarious skit with a great underlying message about being a good wife and mother. I knew they looked familiar and found out they are from Sichikwalula. These ladies were baptized on the medical mission in 2004 and worked with Rodgers Namuswa to get a church planted in their village. They are still going strong and are a great reminder that we should never underestimate the influence of dedicated women who want to serve the Lord. You can read more about these ladies in an earlier blog entitled Sunday Surprise in the Bush.

Lectureship and the Brittells

Namwianga is hosting its annual four-day lectureship right now. The first Monday and Tuesday of July are national holidays, so Namwianga has a Friday through Monday program of speakers and classes. The students all get a long break so that the people who attend the lectureship can stay in the dormitories. I think there are over 1,000 people on campus right now.

David spoke at one of the keynote sessions on Saturday morning and introduced the lectureship theme of Holiness. I was scheduled to speak to the ladies' class Saturday afternoon at 3:00. I went to the auditorium at 2:45 just in case the 2:00 class ended early. As it turns out, the 2:00 speaker was still going strong at 4:15, so my class didn't begin until 4:30 or so. I was glad that I was able to be in the earlier session, though, because I got to hear Jacob Sianungu preach in English as Aaron Brittell interpreted in Tonga. These men have an interesting life story. They were raised in an orphanage at Sinde Mission by the Brittell family. Augusta and Jesse Brittell moved to Africa with their two adult daughters, Gladys and Elaine, in 1946 to start the orphanage. Their son Orville was already working at Sinde Mission. The Brittell women did all of the day-to-day care of the babies and spoke to them only in English. Jacob and Aaron sound exactly like Americans as they speak even today.

I have read a book about Augusta Brittell entitled "Mother of Eighty." She was a woman of great faith and evangelistic zeal for the lost. She died in 1964, but her legacy lives on in the men like Jacob and Aaron who were raised by her family. Jacob is a preacher in Livingstone and also runs an orphanage. Aaron lives in Kalomo and is a church leader. We have been on several outreaches with him and his gospel singing group.

The story of the Brittells is fascinating. After Augusta died, her daughter Elaine continued caring for some of the orphans. She moved into Livingstone and became known for her works of kindness and her involvement in the community. One Zambian told me that Elaine would go to the hospital and find a patient who needed care--someone who was a stranger to her. Elaine would bring a mat and sleep on the floor next to the patient's bed for as long as necessary. Some people called her the "Mother Theresa of Zambia."

She lived in a room behind the Central Church of Christ building in Livingstone. In the early 80s, she was murdered as she slept. The killer was never found. I have heard stories about her funeral. Those who were there say that the entire town lined the streets as her coffin was carried in the procession. The line of mourners was so long that when the first people in the procession reached the cemetery a mile outside town, the end of the line of mourners was just leaving the downtown area of the city. Today there is an area of Livingstone named Elaine Brittell Township.

I would love to know more about Elaine and the Brittells. If anyone reading this happens to have information or knows any of the family, please let me know.