Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Left Behind Group

Zambia Medical Mission 2011 ended with a transportation nightmare when 18 of the team members missed their flight got left behind in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Read Ellie Hamby's description of it here:

Overall the Zambia Medical Mission 2011 went exceptionally well. We had two major is sues (one at the beginning and one at the end) but other than that it was great. We saw thousands of people, our group stayed basically healthy, we had plenty of medicine, and the kitchen crew did a suburb job of feeding everyone. A big thanks to Josh Judkins and his kitchen crew for stepping up when Nadara could not come. They did an excellent job and Leonard Sichimwa, head cook, said it was 100%.

Carole Buchholz, who suffered the broken wrist at the beginning of the medical mission, was sent to Nashville for medical treatment after she spent about a week in the hospital in Johannesburg. We understand she had surgery in Nashville and is doing much better.

Of course, many of you have heard about the “Stranded 18” in Zimbabwe. We had to send 33 people to Victoria Falls to fly out as there were not enough seats for the whole team on the flight out of Livingstone. Normally, it is not a problem to cross the border, but that day it took 3 ½ hours at immigration at the border and this caused 18 of our people to miss their flight. I went on the bus to the airport with the first group and even though the gate was closed for the flight I managed to get them to open it back up for our group. The ground crew agreed to delay the flight as long as possible to wait for the remaining 18 to come and did so until the captain said he was waiting no more and closed the door. The plane took off just as the group arrived at the airport. The 18 had to spend the night in V/Falls and we were able to find them accommodations at Russell Caldecott’s (Ultimate Africa) and they did get to go to the Boma for their evening meal.

The problem we were facing is that a group ticket cannot be changed without huge penalties. The agent at V/Falls agreed to send the group on to South Africa at absolutely no charge and even upgraded the group to Business Class. I decided to fly with the group as we were facing monumental problems upon arrival in South Africa. I had awaken our travel agent at 1:00 am in the morning and also I called KB and told him the worse case scenario was that we were facing a cost of at least $3000 for each person to reissue a ticket. Our travel agent worked on the issue but told me all I could do was plead our case to the international ticket agency in J/Burg airport. On the flight there I spent all my time in prayer and rehearsing the speech I was going to give. I planned to tell them that we were loyal customers of South African Airways and that our group was all volunteers doing humanitarian work in Zambia. When I arrived at the counter and started my speech to the supervisor, he quickly stopped me and said, “If you are with the 18 coming from V/Falls do not worry as all has been taken care of and all they need to do is go check in.” I asked him to repeat it twice to make certain that is what he said. The group quickly went to check in and got boarding passes for their trip back to the USA. All this was done with no cost to Zambia Medical Mission. I do not know who intervened (but I know prayers were answered). KB said in his email, “Those who are with us are greater than those who are against us.” The stranded 18 were real troopers and made the job of sorting things out much easier.

Special thanks to all who helped make ZMM 2011 a huge success. Many of you donated money to help individual team members and also for medicine, clean delivery kits, cataract surgery, containers, and wheelchairs. Your participation with us is greatly appreciated.

My notes: Ellie does an amazing job of coordinating this huge medical mission, handling crises like this with courageous grace. What a hero!

Zambia Medical Mission 2011

This is a photo of the Zambia Medical Mission team for 2011. Ellie Hamby describes their efforts:

We have just completed our 17th annual medical mission trip to Zambia. This year we had a team of around 240 (this includes the 120 Zambian medical, spiritual and support staff volunteers). Our group worked very hard as the lines of patients coming for treatment were often quite long. We were able to treat all that came and that is always our goal. This year we saw over 16,000 patients in 6 days of clinics. On our 5th day of clinics we saw 3700 in one day and you can imagine everyone was very tired. Our team stayed healthy and we are thankful for that. The first few days we experienced very cold weather, but the last few days it was quite warm.

We sent over 150 cataract patients to Namwianga where Dr. Moonze and Dr. Teague performed the surgeries. They made many people extremely happy to have their sight restored. As the A-Team (Advance team) was traveling to Kasukwe for our 3 clinic they saw a man at a junction wearing cataract glasses. When the man saw the Namwianga vehicles he started shouting “Namwianga, Namwianga, I can see now that I had eye surgery at Namwianga”. It was a blessing for all to experience his dancing for joy on having his eyesight restored.

We made 3 emergency runs where we had patients that would not have survived if we had not been there. One was an old man that was critically ill with stomach issues and was being brought in an ox-cart. A truck was driving by and saw the man was very sick so they moved him to the back of the truck and he was brought to our clinic at Njabalombe. Dr. Tate attended to him and said he had to be transported immediately as his condition was grave. We hooked up IV’s in the back of the Land Cruiser and lifted the old man into the back. He was transported to the nearest hospital which was over 2 ½ hrs away. All indications were he was going to make it.

On our 4th clinic day we were at Kasukwe and a young man was carried in with a horrible foot injury caused by a maize threshing machine. He had traveled 6 miles in the back of an ox cart and had lost a considerable amount of blood on the way. He was bleeding profusely as he was being carried into our wound care clinic. Dr. McKenzie quickly attended to him to get the bleeding under control and IV’s were started. The young man had gone into shock as his condition was also grave. Within 10 minutes of his arriving at the clinic we had him in the back of a vehicle with IV’s connected on the way to Macha Hospital. They rushed him there in record time (about 1 ½ hrs.) and by the time they got to Macha he was becoming alert. Our medical personnel are confident he would have bled to death if we had not had our clinic at Kasukwe.

On the 5th day of clinics at Kasukwe we had a 15 year old girl come in with lesions on her face. It was determined that she did have leprosy and we gave her mother funds to take her daughter to Chikinkata (the leper hospital in Zambia). It is felt if she can get started on treatment they will be able to save the loss of her limbs and the advancement of the leprosy.

We had over 50 people brought in that needed wheelchairs. Some of them crawled, some were carried, and some came on bicycles or oxcarts. These were given wheelchairs and therefore the gift of mobility.

The expression of joy of the faces of the thousands of people is indescribable. The following statement was often expressed, “Why did these people cross the waters to help someone they did not know?” The answer was simple “They did it to show the love of Jesus”.

Lives were saved both physically and spiritually, eyesight was restored, dignity was given to each patient and all in the name of Jesus. There were around 80 people baptized and we praise God for that.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Zambia Medical Mission

Zambia Medical Mission is at work in Southern Province this week. Shown above is Kel Hamby giving instructions to some of the Americans who arrived last weekend to join the team. The lower photo shows the new bus that is part of the convoy that took over 200 Zambians and Americans and all their gear out into the bush to begin the clinics.

July Lectureship

Namwianga hosts an annual lectureship the first weekend in July. People from all over the country attend. Roy Merritt sent this photo of this year's Sunday morning lectureship gathering in Johnson Auditorium. There were 951 squeezed into the building. I can only imagine how wonderful the singing sounded!

Sunday, July 03, 2011


I left Namwianga last Monday morning at 8:30. I was supposed to take an Air France flight out of Johannesburg, South Africa, that afternoon, but the flight was delayed 12 hours. That meant I couldn't make my connecting flights, so Air France booked me on a Delta flight for Tuesday night and put me up in a nice hotel across from the airport. Tuesday afternoon I arrived at the Delta counter and found out I was not even in the Delta computer system and was not going anywhere. After another night in Johannesburg, I finally flew out on Wednesday night and got home Thursday night. My luggage didn't make it here until Saturday. Oh well, I'm finally home and unpacked. It was a great trip and I brought home great memories to treasure.

Student Outreach at Kanyaya

Outreaches are an important part of the training that sponsored students receive at Namwianga. By visiting and ministering in other congregations, the students develop their leadership and preaching skills. Most outreaches from Namwianga are on Sundays. Students get up early to load onto vehicles, jump on bicycles, or just head out on foot to village congregations. But now and then there is a weekend outreach like the recent area-wide meeting at Kanyaya.
Loading for this weekend outreach began on Friday afternoon. And what a load it was! Students brought their mattresses from the dorms and stacked them in the open backs of pickups. Luggage and blankets were tied on top or wedged in on the sides. Vegetables and other food items found a place. And then the riders squeezed in wherever they could. Somehow there was room.

The students were driven to the village of Kanyaya where an area-wide meeting was held. Almost 150 people from seven congregations gathered in and around the tiny mud brick and thatch church building. Grass-fenced shelter areas had been built underneath shade trees to provide a larger gathering area, and another grass-fenced area was designated as the kitchen where meals were cooked over open fires. For this weekend outreach, the students brought mealie-meal, vegetables, and cooking oil from the college’s kitchen. The village congregation provided water, firewood, and grass shelters.
Rodgers Namuswa is the coordinator for student outreaches. He says the students did most of the teaching, preaching, and song leading for the weekend. On Friday night there were some lessons, but the singing went on until well after midnight. Finally the men settled into their sleeping spots inside the grass fence and the women slept inside the building.
On Saturday the sessions resumed with more preaching and teaching. The college women taught Bible classes to the children and the college men did most of the lessons for the adults. By Saturday night the weather had turned very cold, so three big fires were built to ensure that everyone could be close to a source of heat. At 11:00 the GBCC Heavenly Echoes choir began singing to those gathered around the fires, and the singing continued until 6:00 the next morning.
Rodgers Namuswa describes the warm welcome that college students receive on outreaches like this one: “People like the college students so much! Many village churches are really encouraged a lot by visits from the students. The students are able to do the work of the outreaches because they like to go out and share God’s word.”