For many years now I’ve wanted to go on a mission trip with my church, Highway Church. A few years ago I had planned to go and started the process, but ultimately could not go. My desire to go sort of ebbed and flowed since then. This year was one of the years where I wasn’t particularly keen on the idea, but Chris, our youth pastor, specifically asked his youth leadership to go on the trip. I obliged.
Although it must be said, I was not willing at first. I came up with a number of excuses:
- I had just started a new job.
- I was running late on my first project at this new job.
- I didn’t have enough leave.
- I was saving up enough money for a trip to the UK next year.
- I wouldn’t be able to attend all the training sessions
- And so they went on…
But Chris insisted that we make every effort to go. So I decided that I’d just say yes, and do my bit. I’d do everything I could, and the rest was up to God. Chris, Sean (my brother) and I all went and asked our boss if we could have leave. And he said yes. That took me by surprise.
So one thing follow another and I did my bit. I worked hard on my overdue project, paid the money that I could and went to the training I could. Everything else would just have to wait. God definitely stepped in – one day I was battling with something in my project, and the next it was fixed. The remarkable thing is that I hadn’t done any work on it between closing my laptop the night before and opening it the following morning. So that was pretty cool.
So that’s enough about that. The point of this post is actually to give you a brief insight of the logistics of the trip. Thereafter I will share some of the more memorable stories from the trip. I’ll write each story as a separate blog post over the next few days/weeks.
The team consisted of 18 people. We were taking 4 vehicles up to Zambia. On arriving in Zambia
2 July: Wednesday
At midnight on the 2nd we packed all our bags, tents, equipment and everything else into the various vehicles. We then had an afternoon nap before arriving at midnight to make our way.
3 July: Thursday
We set out at 1am on our way towards the South Africa-Botswana border. We made it to the border around 7 am and after the crossing we headed to Elephant Sand camp site just beyond Nata where we set up camp for the night. It was great to see the elephants coming to drink right there at the camp site.
4 July: Friday
We packed camp and had a quick breakfast early in order get on the road as soon as possible. We headed through the Chome game reserver to the Botswana-Namibia border. Once through the border we headed through the Kaprivi Strip and into Zambia. We had several delays along the way, and missed the ferry which closed at 18:00, resulting in us having to spend the night on the “wrong” side of the Zambezi. We stayed at a camp site that was owned by another Gauteng-based church and met up with some “old” friends.
5 July: Saturday
We made a semi-early start towards the pontoon that wouldcarry us across the Zambezi. After crossing we made our way to base camp in Mongu. We took a tour around the “Village of Hope”, along with the “Village of Hope” school and clinic. All these are planted and supported by the local, “Hope Church”. We then took it easy for the rest of the day and enjoyed a beautiful fillet steak braai for dinner.
6 July: Sunday
We set out early in order to make it to church on time. Our team (Ngundi team) made it well early, having the shorter drive and no pontoon crossing, and set up camp before church. We then joined the local Ngudi PAOG Church for church that morning. We spent the rest of the day planning for the week aheah: gathering firewoord and water, testing out the rubber duck and a few other bits and bobs.
7 July – 9 July: Monday – Wednesday
We split our team up into 4 smaller groups. For these three days, 2 groups went across onto Mbeta Island, one headed up the river towards the local clinic and school, while the final team stayed at camp and visited neighbouring villages. On the evening of the 9th we showed the Jesus film on Mbeta Isand, with a team of 6 doing a night crossing in order to make that happen. Every evening we had a church gathering at Ngundi Church.
10 July: Thursday
We once again split into 4 groups, but all 4 groups stayed on the mainland. We did similar minitry to the last three days, but finished early in order to start packing camp and preparing for our final evening at Ngundi. That evening we showed the Jesus film at Ngundi Church.
11 July: Friday
We set off early in the morning to get to the pontoon early. We crossed the Zambezi to meet up with the Sioma team. After a long time apart and a long time waiting to cross, we were pleased to see them, and they felt likewise! We then continued on our way towards Livingston. We arrived and went straight to the Victoria Falls. What an incredible sight! That evening we had an incredible debrief and then turned in for a short night’s rest ahead of a long leg home.
12 July: Saturday
We headed out early in the morning and made our way through Zambia, into Botswana and finally (around 21:00) into South Africa. It was a long drive, to say the least. We were met in Makopane by relief drivers who then took over the driving for the last part of the journey back to church.
13 July: Sunday
We arrived back at Highway Church at about 02:00 and made our way straight home for a good night’s rest before an incredible church service full of great feedback.
That’s about all for the logistics. Work has been a little busy, hence the delay in getting this out. But I will endeavour to get the rest of the storied blogged. There’s stuff that I really want to get down and I’m sure people out there in cyberspace would enjoy reading! That’s all for now!