Once again, and I say this every time that Bev and I go to Africa, this journey has been a rich and rewarding experience from any way that you look at it. Seeing the churches grow is one thing. But, seeing so many really striving to better their lives with the disciplines of LifeNets has been wonderfully rewarding.
The trip has been a lot of work for both of us. I spoke 12 different times in a space of 28 days. Whenever I'm at a particular location I am the speaker and know that I have to have something of value to teach, explain, motivate and inspire. I thank God continually for making it happen. I have not considered myself a natural speaker.
We were gratified to see high-quality churches grow from tiny congregations to more than 150 in Malawi and 300 in Zambia. These are devoted, understanding, motivated and faithful people. They're on their way! They have a good biblical base of knowledge and while visiting with them good questions are asked about doctrine and Applied Christian Living.
On the LifeNets front, we devote a good part of our resources to Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. We have more than 34 students right now getting scholarships from University to secondary school in hopes of having an opportunity for higher education. We have a cattle, water and farm revolving credit program in Zambia that is an absolute success in bringing a better life to dozens of families. Once we pushed out this program, it's succeeded on its own and has been true to the LifeNets mission of providing practical help, encouraging self-sufficiency and passing its benefit to others in the community.
We have several excellent Livelihood Development Projects ranging from sewing, knitting, shops, groceries, plumbing, trading, poultry, honey processing and much more. By educating people how to run a little enterprise through our continual education and through Jennifer Myers' summer seminar this past summer made the LifeNets Mission Statement live.
We were able to leave six computers behind on this trip. Five are brand-new laptops and the last one was my personal laptop. As in the US, young people are asked the question, "do you have computer experience?" An affirmative answer gets you to the head of the line for a good job. We feel that our students, particularly those studying Information Technology should have computers for their studies. It's hard to study about computers without a computer. We also left behind a PowerPoint projector and two still cameras.
We have provided a few wheelchairs for people who would never have a chance to even get close to having one. We are continuing putting in wells for fresh drinkable water. We have also been told that we have set a standard for other NGO's in DOING-DOING, not just talking and planning. In the last ten years we have provided well over three million dollars in direct aid.
Bev and I again give God credit for opening all the doors for not only the financing (through many of you who are reading this), but through accountable, disciplined managers on the ground who squeeze the most of the money that we have invested.
We love the various people that we work through and have developed very personal relationships with them.
The outcomes of HOPE and changed statues has been most rewarding. We have raised the standard of living considerably, particularly in Zambia. The most dramatic change is a family that lived on subsistence now has dozens of cattle and an income of $4000 a year! They need no more help from us. They're on their way and encouraging others around them to follow.
We take a lot of things for granted on our side of things. After being in sub-Sahara Africa for several weeks, being jostled around on terrible roads taking forever to get to simple places, I realize how good we have it to have freeways and an infrastructure that works. In Zambia power failures would last for hours. Kambani Banda, as I write, has been unavailable by phone for days. We would not tolerate that. Life is inconvenient, hard, hot, expensive, uncaring, slow-moving, harsh, controlling and tiresome. I just get tired doing the simplest of things and am so happy to have the conveniences that I am more thankful for.
Yet, their spirit is undaunted and they have learned to live in this harsh environment and can smile and laugh with us. We would feel tortured and abused!
Thanks for reading this blog and following our trip. Thanks to all who have contributed to LifeNets. Your contributions have gone a LONG WAY to helping these people achieve positive outcomes in their lives.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States